It was not very convincing what Ajax showed on the bad pitch in rainy Loule. But the side from Amsterdam defeated Aberdeen 2-1 and won its first trophy of 2003.
Aberdeen had looked forward to the friendly match keek against Ajax. Earlier in the week the side of new coach Steve Paterson lost to VFL Wolfsburg 2-0, but it created many chances. ,,It's fanatstic to play against a team with such a big name in the world. A great experience for me and the team."
The Dons maube showed a little too much respect for the opponent, because despite creating many chances Aberdeen only scored once, when Darren Mackie was on target just before halftime.
But by then Aberdeen was already facing a deficit. A hungry Zlatan had put Ajax up 2-0. Ajax fielded Bergdolmo and Pasanen as central defenders, with Trabelsi and De Jong as backs. In midfield Galasek laboured together with Maxwell and Wamberto. Van der Meyde, Zlatan and Munteanu formed the attack.
,,Now guys have played who normally would not have", Koeman said after the match, when he had also brought on Machlas, Boukhari, Petre and Sneijder. ,,I hope that my regular starters will be able to play as soon as possible. If Chivu can play on Wednesday, we will form a team that I want to see in the second half of the season. In Egypt you won't see the same eleven as in the game against Benfica. I see the match in Lisbon as the most important one in the preparation."
Circumstances were far from ideal. ,,On this grass good football was impossible", goalkeeper Joey Didulica, who had replaced Bogdan Lobont in goal, though. In the second half he acted as Ajax's captain and got to accept the trophy after the match.
After fifteen minutes Zlatan scored from a beautiful pass from Wamberto. Goalkeeper Preece had no chance of saving. Twenty minutes later that happened again, when Zlatan went by Rutkiewicz and doubled Ajax's lead. In the final minutes of the first half Aberdeen came back.
It took the Scots three tries to score. First Anderson hit the crossbar, then substitute Leon Mike struck in the side netting, but two minutes before half time it was Darren Mackie who beat Didulica from close range, 2-1.
In the second half the most dangerous Ajax player was Andy van der Meyde. The right winger made some great moves, but he failed to expand his team's lead when he appeared alone before Preece. It kept the game close, because Mike had a chance to equalise, but he tripped on the bad grass.
The score stayed 2-1. Ajax won the Algarve Winter Cup, but will show its true face against Benfica on Wednesday, if coach Ronald Koeman gets his way and the injured players will have recovered.