Ajax's 3-0 win over Italian giants Internazionale not only brought the side the overall victory in the Amsterdam Tournament, it also gave Ajax a much-needed morale boost for the qualifying matches for the Champions League in nine days.
Ajax against Internazionale meant Andy van der Meyde against his friends. But it was also the new Ajax versus the new Inter. The club from Milan was twice the better team in last season's Champions League.
This time Ajax, with new players Julien Escudé and Zdenek Grygera as the team's central defenders, were on top. Ajax were already superior in the first half, but Rafael van der Vaart and Steven Pienaar missed from close range.
To win the Amsterdam Tournament, Ajax had to defeat Inter by three goals. With Jari Litmanen on for Jelle van Damme in the second half, Ajax were a class better. Litmanen made sure the front line had ample supply. ,,There was more football in the team with Litmanen'', coach Ronald Koeman said. ,,Inter had no answer for his actions.''
Quickly, Ajax ended their dry spell of 135 minutes without scoring. Steven Pienaar thundered the ball in the roof of the net after four minutes in the second half. Five minutes later, Litmanen crossed from the left, Pienaar headed it to Van der Vaart who hit home with his right foot: 2-0.
Aax had defeated Inter, but were still a goal away from winning the Tournament. In the 90th minute, Van der Vaart and Wamberto, who had replaced the still-improving Wesley Sonck, broke away. Van der Vaart unselfishly gave the ball to the Brazilian forward, who shot it past Toldo with his left: 3-0 and the Tournament-Cup to Ajax.
The joy came also because the team's morale had been given a boost. Inter are one of Europe's better teams and are rarely defeated by three goals. With Ajax very likely having to face Grazer AK for the Champions League preliminary, the win could not have come at a better time. The Amsterdammers now have the confirmation that they can play with the best in Europe and should do so again when they eliminate the Austrians.