It was not a great match, but Ajax qualified for the next Cup round by defeating ADO Den Haag by 2-0. And, just as important, Ajax remained damage-free for Sunday's clash with PSV.
Coach Henk ten Cate, who rested Wesley Sneijder and Gabri, laughed and shrugged. He realised that the Cup match against ADO could hardly captivate the 7,909 spectators, but the Ajax boss knows by now that his team's midweek performance against ADO is no indication of the form needed against PSV. The Cup match looked like a copy of the Ajax - ADO of two weeks ago. Then too, the match with ADO was sandwiched between two difficult matches and did the team nothing too much, only to come alive in the weekends. This time the game came between the difficult match against Heracles and next Sunday's match for first place against PSV.
Ajax took the lead after eight minutes when Jaap Stam came forward, passed to Mauro Rosales and received the ball back from the winger to head in his first Ajax goal.: 1-0.
ADO almost levelled at the start of the second half when sub Urby Emanuelson lost the ball to Michael Mols but Maarten Stekelenburg saved. After that, the home team took control again. Klaas Jan Huntelaar sealed the win with a goal in the 65th minute, again from a cross by Rosales. Only the return of Nicolae Mitea, who came back after being injured for months, was worth mentioning after that.
,,Nicolae has worked very hard to come back. I wanted to reward him for that'', said Ten Cate. ,,Furthermore, Edgar Manucharyan has played the full 90 minutes and we reached the next round without any damage. And my three defenders (Stam, Zdenek Grygera and Thomas Vermaelen, ed.) did a great job.''
And so, Ajax reached the next round, to the satisfaction of coach Ten Cate. ,,In Cup football, only reaching the next round and winning counts. How is not important. If we win the Cup this season, everyone will have forgotten tonight's match.''