Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Ryan Babel laid the foundation for the impeccable 4-0 win against sc Heerenveen by scoring within one minute from each other. Ajax extend the season with two more matches against AZ.
Goals by Klaas Jan Huntelaar (2), Ryan Babel and Kenneth Perez were more than enough to erase the 1-0 deficit after Wednesday's match in Heerenveen. A difficult week, with a Cup final and two playoff matches, had been completed successfully.
,,We did not reach our level of Wednesday’’, Heerenveen coach Gertjan Verbeek said afterwards. ,,We needed that level to reach the second round today. Ajax deserve to go through; they are a fine representative of Holland in the Champions League.’’ It was a conclusion with which Ajax boss Henk ten Cate gladly agreed.
,,The 1-0 came out of nowhere, but it gave us confidence’’, Ten Cate said. ,,It was not easy. Heerenveen were much more dangerous the first tweny minutes. Babel made it 2-0 after a great move and at that moment Heerenveen received a great blow.’’
The first goal by Huntelaar was the start of one crazy minute. Ryan Babel ended the sixty second with the 2-0. In a by Heerenveen dominated opening phase of the match, the home team struck twice and turned the match around.
Wesley Sneijder was one of the best players on the afternoon. The midfielder showed an impressive array of touches, passes and moves. Klaas Jan Huntelaar also proved his worth by scoring twice. In the first half he put away the rebound after Brian Vandenbussche had saved a shot by Sneijder and in the second half the striker was brought down in the box by goalkeeper Vandenbussche, who was sent off. Huntelaar himself fired in the penalty past substitute goalkeeper Rob van Dijk. Reduced to ten, Heerenveen surrendered. Ajax had quite a few chances, but were a bit careless in the remainder of the match.
Substitute Kenneth Perez was the exception. He scored after a cross by Sneijder: 4-0.
Ajax now face a double confrontation with AZ, who eliminated FC Twente in the other semifinal. Ajax first play in Alkmaar next Sunday, after which the teams square off in Amsterdam the week after.
Ten Cate: ,,AZ and Ajax have shown that there is not much difference between them this season. We have drawn three times, two times of which we had to play with ten for an extended period. But it is close. Both teams have livened up the league this year.''
Ajax will miss Edgar Davids in Alkmaar. The midfielder received yellow cards in both matches against Heerenveen and will be suspended for one match. Jaap Stam is doubtful for the next match; the captain went off late in the match with a hamstring injury.