Fighting like lions Ajax reached the next round of the UEFA Cup. In a match in which Fiorentina dominated, goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer and substitute Leonardo made the difference for the Amsterdam side: 1-1.
Leonardo aims to make it 1-1.
Kenneth Vermeer was on goal for the home side, because Maaarten Stekelenburg had to pull out sick. The back-up goalkeeper again proved to be an excellent replacement for the Holland goalkeeper and Ajax captain. Allready in the opening minutes, Fiorentina tested him severely a few times, but he did not bend. His lions' courage transferred to his team. ,,If you stop the shots in the fourth minute, you're in the game”, said Vermeer. ,,And then you know it almost cannot go wrong. I was happy that I got to play, and then especially in a match like this. This is really my first really big game.” But even Vermeer could not prevent that Fiorentina took the lead in the second half. ,,That was deserved'', Marco van Basten said. ,,In the first half we had our hands full with a very strong Fiorentina and they had our number. Kenneth Vermeer got us through that stage. Fiorentina made it 0-1 in the second half and we did not look good.” Van Basten took off Lindgren and brought on Leonardo. ,,It made a difference. Fiorentina started to fear us and that gave us some more air.” Leonardo was in full swing. Annoyed by the fact that he had become a reserve again, he kept half of the Fiorentina defence occupied and lived his special moment in the 88th minute. ,,I tried a give and go with Luis and got the ball back. Then I went by a couple of guys and shot it with my 'chocolate' foot' he said. ,,We may have not been able to attack much, but we did it another way, and we should be happy with that”, Van Basten said. He has to prepare his team for the next two matches with Olympique Marseille, who will be Ajax's opponents on 12 March (in France) and 18 March (Amsterdam).