Ajax reached their goals after the home match against FC Zwolle. The club from Amsterdam remained damage-free. Nobody was injured and Ajax won. ,,Jari Litmanen made the difference?, Zwolle-coach Peter Boeve said after the match that Ajax won by 2-0 after a 0-0 half time score.
It was not about two teams playing a league match on Saturday evening. Not about Zwolle with the surprising seasons start. Nor about struggling, but still winning Ajax. For the almost fifty thousand supporters, Saturday evening was about one man: Jari Litmanen.
The fans were already ecstatic when the number 20 and the corresponding name were announced. For over an hour the Finnish player did what everybody likes to see from him: coaching, passing and scoring. The goals was cancelled, though, as Litmanen was offside when he struck.
Ajax had plenty of opportunity to score, despite the defensive block that Zwolle had formed. The best opportunities to score were for Andy van der Meyde in the 19th minute and Maxwell in the 39th minute. Both missed. Between those two chances a cross found Litmanens head. Zwolles goalkeeper Johan van der Werff prevented with a good save that the crowd went completely wild.
Ajax had to start the second half 0-0. Richard Witschge had replaced Maxwell at half time. Coach Ronald Koeman thought Litmanen would function better that way. ,,Jari plays more effectively when the players around him do a lot of running, the coach said. ,,I am quite pleased with the way Jari played. It was up to him to decide when he needed a substitution and that moment came in the 60th minute.
Then Ajax had just scored. ,,It is a little easier to take him of when you are ahead, said Koeman, who also realised that Zwolle was not able to catch up with Ajax. After exactly an hour Ajax scored. The excellent Hatem Trabelsi made a rush on the touch line, crossed to Witschge, who headed the ball in.
In the 81st minute Trabelsi went into the box again and was fouled according to referee Schenkels. Chivu gratefully accepted the referees present and put the penalty kick away in the corner: 2-0.
Ajax had not lost any points and came away without injuries. Those were the most important facts for Ajax, who prepare for Tuesdays Champions League match against Olympique Lyonnais.