Ajax came up short in the final match of the Amsterdam Tournament. The home side lost to Arsenal by 1-0 through a late goal by Robin van Persie. Henk ten Cate said the opponent was ‘one size too big for us’.
Ajax were in reach of winning the Tournament for 86 minutes. A 0-0 draw would have been enough. But Robin van Persie had other plans. In the final minutes he touched a cross from the left past Maarten Stekelenburg. ,,That was disappointingr”, John Heitinga said. ,,You want to win every match and when it goes wrong in the end, you're sad.” Hard challenges proved that both teams took the match more than seriously. ,,It got rough at times”, Heitinga admitted.
Henk ten Cate said Arsenal were the better team in the ArenA. ,,Arsenal really were a size too big for us. In the first 15 minutes we could not keep up. Then we made a quick substitution and we started playing better.” The Ajax boss took off defender Gregory van der Wiel and brought on winger Dennis Rommedahl in. Not because Van der Wiel played badly, but because Ajax had one defender too much on the pitch. Rommedahl went to the left wing and came close to scoring quickly after he came on. ,,Dennis did well”, said Ten Cate. ,,He was dangerous but I'd rather play him on the right.”
Ten Cate missed Jaap Stam, Gabri and Edgar Davids against Arsenal. ,,Their absence was obvious. Without players of their caliber, you don't make it against a team such as Arsenal.”
Yet, after the first 15 minutes, Ajax came on strong. The wings provided some danger (Rommedahl and Kennedy), Heitinga was strong in midfield and the central defenders Vermaelen and Colin gave very little away. Only in the last 15 minutes did Arsenal regain control of the match. Van Persie came close in the 73rd minute, but Stekelenburg saved his try. Fifteen minutes later though, the Arsenal forward scored and gave his team the overall win of the Tournament. ,,A pity”, Ten Cate said. ,,But I still look back on the tournament with a good feeling. Especially if you consider how we played against Atlético.''
Although Ajax finished as third in the final standing with five points, Heitinga ended the tournament with an award. He was voted the best player of the LG Amsterdam Tournament.