Ajax strike first blow in playoffs

Ajax strike first blow in playoffs

Ajax have put themselves in a very good position to advance to the second round of the playoffs. In the first of two matches against Feyenoord, the home team from Amsterdam won by 3-0.

Ajax, who finished the regular season in fourth place, hosted number three Feyenoord in the ArenA with the intention of at least not letting their arch rivals get an away goal. But despite that, the first twenty minutes were for Feyenoord. Kuyt, Greene, Castelen and Kalou were all dangerous. However, Ajax were first to score. Mauro Rosales picked off an errand pass by Ron Vlaar and tried a lob. The ball hit the crossbar and in the rebound the Argentinian winger scored: 1-0.

Ajax took their lead into the second half as the match got more and more physical. In the last 30 minutes, there were three red cards and two yellow cards shown. The first to be sent off was Feyenoord's Bahia, who saw his second yellow after 61 minutes. Ajax were not given much time to enjoy their numerical advantage, however, as Steven Pienaar, who had come on for Hedwiges Maduro just minutes earlier, fouled Kuyt in an attempt to stop play. His teammates Boukhari was lying on the grass with an apparent injury, but the way Pienaar fouled Kuyt left the referee no choice.

With both teams having ten players left, John Heitinga doubled his team's lead in the 78th minute when he scored from the second post after a free kick by Boukhari. The Amsterdam ArenA went wild, but more was to come. Rosales sent a beautiful cross to Klaas Jan Huntelaar at the second post and Holland's top goal scorer headed in the ball: 3-0 after 80 minutes.

Feyenoord tried to get that all-important away goal but left much room behind the last line. Ajax broke away, Rosales crossed to Huntelaar who had a clear path to the goal. Castelen grabbed the Ajax striker and was sent off. With only a handfull of minutes to play, Ajax could not create a fourth goal and played out the time. The side take a 3-0 advantage into Sunday's return match in Rotterdam. In the other playoff round, Groningen defeated AZ 3-1.