Nourdin Boukhari helped Ajax to a victory against NAC with a quick and a late goal. After two disappointing home matches, in which Ajax earned only one point, the side desperately needed a win. Despite a number of absentees due to injuries, illness and a suspension, Ajax prevailed in a close match against NAC in Breda: 1-2.
His last match was early December against RKC. He lost his place to Nicolae Mitea and even Ryan Babel played on the left wing. But Mitea experienced a drop-off in form and was not even in the squad against NAC. Ryan Babel sustained an injury last week against FC Twente and he was kept on the bench in the beginning, with the UEFA Cup match against Auxerre in mind. In that match, Babel has to play striker as Angelos Charisteas is not eligible to play in Europe for Ajax. So there was room for another appearance of Nourdin Boukhari and hope was that he could make the difference against his former club.
He quickly did. Last season, he scored for NAC after seven minutes against Ajax in the Mycom stadium in Breda. This time, he needed even less time. In the third minute he was not unlucky when he lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Davy Schollen: 0-1.
Without Galásek and Sneijder (injured), Van der Vaart (suspended) and Heitinga (illness), Rasmus Lindgren - he made his debut -, Steven Pienaar and Anthony Obodai formed Ajax's midfield. ,,They did well", coach Ronald Koeman said. ,,I am pleased with Lindgren's debut. He positioned himself very well. Our central midfielder played closer to the striker today, because Pienaar does that well. He is good in transition and we had an extra player near Charisteas. We were lucky to get the early lead and we contolled the match. But we did not use the space we had on the wings enough."
Right before halftime, Ajax's grip on the match started slipping. NAC became more and more dangerous and shortly into the second half, Yuri Cornelisse scored the equaliser from a good free kick. Maarten Stekelenburg, who came on for Hans Vonk who suffered a thigh injury in the first half, never had a chance.
,,After the 1-1 it was difficult for us", said Koeman. ,,Both teams played to win. Often, only one team scores and fortunately we were that team."
Two minutes before the end, Steven Pienaar lobbed the ball over the NAC defence and found Boukhari. He put in the winning goal through the legs of Schollen: 1-2. Ajax thus gained two points on AZ and PSV, who drew against each other (0-0) on Saturday.
,,It's good to win here", Boukhari said afterwards. ,,It does not really matter who the opponent was, I was motivated anyway. I always kept fighting and it stimulates when somebody loses his form and you know your chance is coming. The first goal, I tried to get the ball to the second post, but it went in."
Rasmus Lindgren was also happy after the match. The young Swede made his debut in the first team. ,,It's nice to get three points in your debut match'', the midfielder said. ,,I heard that I would play on Saturday and now I finally have my debut behind me. I am never really nervous, but I felt some tension. I thought I did well in the first half. In the second half I lost the ball a couple of times and it did not go so well anymore. I had the feeling it would stay 1-1, but on the other hand you know that when you're Ajax, you always have another chance.''