A fantastic close to the match, the first away win in Europe in three years and a great perpective to reach the next round in the Champions League: Wednesday was, in many ways, a highlight in the young coaching career of Danny Blind. Yet the Ajax boss was far from jubilant after his team defeated FC Thun in Bern (2-4). ,,I have been less sad, even after matches we lost. Then our play gave us some hope. I missed that today. We played poorly.''
In the sold-out Stade de Suisse, Ajax only achieved one of the two goals that Blind had setv previously: winning was essential to remain in second place in the group, and to breed hope and perspective for the upcoming period. Ajax succeeded in the fomer goal, through two goals in added time. But they never came around to part two. Ajax's play left much to be desired in many aspects in Bern. Blind: ,,The play see-sawed and we did not nearly use the room we were given enough.
But not only in possession it was sub-standard, Blind affirmed. The defence looked particularly shaky in some stages, although mainly Zdenek Grygera and Urby Emanuelson could look back on strong performances. The left back was unpassable in the first half and laid the foundation for the first goal. A diagonal pass from Emanuelson was headed in by Yannis Anastasiou, after which the ball came back off the hands of goalkeeper right before Wesley Sneijder's feet. He did not hesitate and fired in the 0-1. Ajax could not complain that that was the halftime score, as the most dangerous moments came on the other side. FC Thun, playing a home match 30 kilometres from their home town, could have scored through Mauro Lustrinelli, Silvan Aegerter and Nelson Ferreira. Ajax got no further than a long-distance effort by
Hedwiges Maduro, who hit the post.
FC Thun went into higher gear after halftime and ten minutes into the second half, Adriano Pimenta crossed to Lustrinelli who beat goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg with a shot in the far corner.
Without really stepping up, Ajax took the lead again not much later. A long attack seemed to be going nowhere, but eventually Ryan Babel delivered a cross that was touched in by Yannis Anastasiou. The Greek came before his defender and gave the ball the right direction with a subtle foot movement, after which Armand Deumi changed the direction of the shot, leaving the goalkeeper without any chance.
Blind delared his annoyance that the new lead did not strenghten his squad, but made them go slower. ,,After halftime we tried to get Maduro, Galásek and Sneijder more room and it worked. But then after our goal, we stopped doing that. We gave Thun the chance to come back.
The Swiss team grabbed the chance and after careless defending by Ajax, Adriano made it 2-2. However, thankfully, they didn't finish the job. First, Tiago Bernardi aimed too high when he was near the goal and then Lustrinelli left an open header unused.
Six minutes later, the world was upside down. Like with their seond goal, Ajax seemed to take too long to mount an attack, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Steven Pienaar touched the ball to Nigel de Jong, who fired it in with his left, the ball going in the top corner off the glove of Jakupovic. Ninety minutes had already passed.
A little later, Ajax benefitted of the room the mentally broken FC Thun players left them. Again, Pienaar provided the assist. The South-African back-heeled the ball to substitute Nourdin Boukhari, who had a choice which corner to put it away in: 2-4.
With seven points from four matches, Ajax's situation in group B of the Champions League looks bright. A draw in the next match (at home against Sparta Prague) will suffice to reach the next round. Yet, Danny Blind's face showed little joy. ,,If you know me, you understand that I am not really cheering right now. I am a coach that focusses on the way his team plays, and today I cannot be satisfied with that.''