Ajax and Valencia draw once more

The result was identical to the match in Spain. Ajax and Valencia drew 1-1 again, this time in Amsterdam. But that's where the similarity ends. Ajax were lucky to leave Valencia with a point in the first match in the second group stage, this time the side from Amsterdam were unlucky not to defeat the Spanish champions.

The nearly fifty thousand supporters did not know what to think in the closing stages of the attractive match. Did Ajax have to defend or attack? One goal by Valencia, and Ajax were all but out of the race for the quarter finales. And one goal by the home team, and Ajax were through. Neither scenario came true. Ajax and Valencia drew, Arsenal and AS Roma drew in London (1-1) and the last matchday in Group B will bring the decision. Ajax still lead the pack, with Arsenal on the same number of points (7), with Valencia (6) and Roma (4) still in contention.

Ajax were more offensive-minded than in any of the previous matches in the second round. It paid off, in the sense that the team from Amsterdam created some good scoring opportunities and had the most posession of the ball. But Valencia were dangerous. Ajax goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont suddenly saw an unmarked John Carew running at him. The Romanian goalie held his ground and saved the visitors' best chance of the evening.

Ajax were unlucky that a far less obvious chance by Valencia became a goal. During a corner kick by the Spanish side, Rufete felt Tomas Galasek pull and the Spanish midfielder went cleverly to the grass. Valencia were awarded a penalty, which was converted with tremendous power by Kily Gonzalez.

In the second half, with winger Andy van der Meyde on for midfielder Nigel de Jong, Ajax seemed determined not to let the great ride that the UEFA Champions League has become for the young squad end prematurely. The home side proved that they were equal to, and at times better, than one of Europe's best teams.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rafael van der Vaart had chances, but it was Petri Pasanen who became the team's unlikely hero. The Finnish defender found himself unmarked when the ball was crossed from the left and with a thunderous header he levelled the match: 1-1.

Ajax were back in the game and had 32 minutes left in which to defend a point or gain three. The home team decided to choose the last option. And they came ever so close. Van der Vaart, Ibrahimovic, Steven Pienaar all tried, but their efforts lacked power or precision.

The best opportunity for Ajax came toward the end. After a fluent attack with Van der Meyde, Ibrahimovic and Van der Vaart all involved, the ball came to Maxwell on the left side. The Brazilian midfielder, one of Ajax's best players on the night, took it with his weaker right foot and the ball went over Canizares' goal.

Valencia had a few opportunities after that, but Chivu Pasanen, O'Brien and Lobont were alert. In the final minutes the fairy tale seemed to come true after all for Ajax. Right back Hatem Trabelsi rushed forward and fell when he was in the box. The referee gestured toward the penalty spot, but it turned out he was indicating that Trabelsi had dived and awarded Valencia a free kick.

In the remaining time neither team had the power to change the score and so the last match day will have to bring the decision in Group B. Ajax need one point to qualify for the quarter finals when they play in Rome next week.