Ajax moved themselves into a good position to reach the second round of the playoffs. Coach Adrie Koster's team won the first match against sc Heerenveen by 1-2, thanks to goals by Luis Suarez and John Heitinga.
In the fourth time both teams faced each other, Ajax were again the better and the winning team. In the playoffs for a ticket to the preliminary round of the Champions League, Ajax began well. The only thing the visitors could regret was that the margin was not bigger. The Amsterdam team scored 'only' twice in Heerenveen, partly due to a lack of luck. Kenneth Perez hit the post and seconds later Dennis Rommedahl struck the crossbar.
,,All in all we played good football’’, Koster said. ,,Ajax were the deserving winners. We had more grip on the game than the last time we played Heerenveen.’’
After a scoreless first half, both Heerenveen and Ajax seemed to save their strenghts for Monday, when the return wil be played in Amsterdam. But the first goal, by Luis Suarez, gave the match a new perspective. Suarez was assisted by his goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg with a long kick, went by goalkeeper Rob van Dijk and put the ball into the empty goal: 0-1. Five minutes after Gerald Sibon had levelled the match, John Heitinga restored his team's lead with a header from a cross by Bruno Silva: 1-2.
With Jan Vertonghen suspended and Thomas Vermaelen injured, Koster had to make adjustments in his defence. Urby Emanuelson went back to his old position as left flank defender, while Rasmus Lindgren - normally a midfielder - began as central defender. Lindgren was one of the better Ajax layers on the afternoon.
Edgar Davids was also among the better players, showing passion and drive. The captain had to be taken off after 56 minutes, however, with an injury in his groin or lower abdomen. Tests on Monday will reveal whether he will be able to play in the return on Monday.
Heerenveen will have to score at least twice in Amsterdam. ,,But this win does not guarantee us a place in the next round’’, Koster said. ,,We still have to play hard for another match to go on.’’