Brave Ajax again with empty hands

The statistics of Ajax against Fabio Capello were favourable. Never before, the Juventus coach managed to defeat the side from Amsterdam, not as a player nor as a coach. Alas for Ajax, Capello broke the streak on Wednesday. The Italian way, winning 1-0 against Ajax in Amsterdam through a goal by Nedved. And again the home side left the pitch with the idea that more had been possible.

Ronald Koeman had watched Holland play the Czech Republic. The Ajax coach also played with only three defenders against group favourites Juventus and with Anthony Obodai guarding Nedved. Zdenek Grygera made sure that his former teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic was reduced to a bit part during the 75 minutes he had to stop him. Nigel de Jong played against Alessandro Del Piero and Johnny Heitinga was the defnder with a free role.

Ajax, who sorely missed the injured Mauro Rosales, could have taken the lead after only a few minutes. A great effort by Wesley Sonck from long range hit the cross bar. But after 15 minutes Ajax lost the initiative to the Italians, although at first it did not cost them the game.

From the very beginning, Ajax were solid in defence. But still, Pavel nedved scored. Unexpectedly, the Czech midfielder received the bal and he produced a beauty of a goal right before halftime.

Ajax were excellent in the first 20 minutes of the second half and should have erased the deficit. There were chances for Sonck (twice), Sneijder and Pienaar - from close range. Ronald Koeman: ,,Then we played the way we wanted and deserved a goal. But we were unlucky with our finishing.''

But Ajax, where Tom de Mul, Julien Escudé and Yannis Anastasiou came to replace Wesley Sneijder, Anthony Obodai and Zdenek Gryera, could not score.
Nicolae Mitea showed flashes of brilliance, but it wasn't enough. ,,It may sound strange when you lose 1-0'', said Koeman, ,,but I am fairly happy with the result. I do however, think that we earned more than this.''