Angelos Charisteas and Klaas Jan Huntelaar brought their team and the Amsterdam ArenA back to life with last-minute goals against Vitesse. Youssouf Hersi's goal seemed to bring Ajax the eleventh loss of the season, but in the final minutes of Ajax - Vitesse the two strikers turned the match around: 2-1.
Tom de Mul, on loan from Ajax, set up Vitesse's goal. His cross was headed in by former Ajax player Youssouf Hersi: 0-1. At that time, it was a deserved lead for the visitors.
Curiously, the 0-1 brought Ajax on the right track. Before Vitesse's goal Ajax played carelessly and restlessly. Substitutes Angelos Charisteas and Wesley Sneijder showed Ajax the way. ,,After the goal we conceded, the spirit was different than before it'', said Danny Blind. ,,It was not the first time this season that the circumstances - facing a deficit - changed us.''
But no matter how hard the Ajax players worked in the last 25 minutes, they never reached a high level, in spite of the eyecatching crosspasses and sublime defence of Thomas Vermaelen. ,,We played badly and created little to no chances'', said Blind.
The home side seemed unable to cancel Hersi's goal for most of the match. Until the this match seldom-used Huntelaar escaped the offside trap in the 89th minute and struck again, his 31st league goal this season. After his late equaliser in the Cup match against Roda JC, he proved his worth again.
After 94 minutes Vitesse did not even have one point to show for their brave effort. Angelos Charisteas, who did well as a late substitute, headed in the winner just minutes before the end. His fellow substitute Sneijder provided the pass from a free kick.
A very important pair of goals for Ajax, who stayed clear of the looming quagmire. With one more league match to play, the side cherish the fourth place in the table. If Ajax win one point in Sunday's match at RKC, they will be in the playoffs. The difference with competitors FC Utrecht and FC Groningen is only two points.
,,Huntelaar has been our most important player lately; Charisteas as an alternative is none too shabby'', Blind praised the winning goal scorer. ,,It's no surprise to me that Angelos does this. He works like that in training as well.''