Ajax fail to impress in Volendam

Last week, Ajax played a strong match against PSV. But against lowly Volendam, the side could not carry on the good form they showed a week earlier. Ajax won at Volendam (0-2), but only the first goal for Ajax by Yannis Anastasiou and the debut of young defender Thomas Vermaelen were reasons to be cheerful.

Coach Ronald Koeman could not call on defender Julien Escudé, whose wife went into labour three weeks early. Because of that, another young player made his debut for Ajax 1: Young Belgian Thomas Vermaelen took the Frenchman's place as Johnny Heitinga's partner in defence.

Volendam withdrew on their own half and tried to surprise Ajax with quick counter attacks. The pace of moving and passing was too low with Ajax, but after eleven minutes the team from Amsterdam took the lead anyway. Wesley Sneijder crossed to Yannis Anastasiou and the new Greek striker headed in his first goal for Ajax.

The visitors tried to find a way to decide the match quickly, but seemed to get stuck every time. The wingers were hardly ever reached and striker Anastasiou received little or no supply. ,,Ajax seemd tired'', Koeman said. ,,And that is strange, because we play only one match a week.''

Goalkeeper Stekelenburg only had two real saves to make in the match, as Volendam did not create many chances either. ,,But if it's only 1-0, you always run the risk of them scoring and us losing valuable points'', Koeman said.

Nigel de Jong, who started as right back, moved to midfield after the disappointing Wesley Sneijder had been replaced by defender Zdenek Grygera. He came closest to scoring in the second half when he hit the post from a cross by substitute Nicolae Mitea. De Jong, together with Johnny Heitinga, Tomás Galásek and first-timer Thomas Vermaelen named by Koeman as the only Ajax players to perform well, sealed the win in the final minutes. He was pulled down by a Volendam defender after moving deftly into the box. Tomás Galásek was as cool as ever and put the spot kick in the low right corner: 0-2.

,,Most players underperfomed today'', Koeman thought. ,,I am not happy about this match, because we played below our level. We played in the same, slow, pace the entire time. Our transition was poor as well. Ajax did not play well, but despite that we gave away very few chances and we created enough opportunities to get three points today.''