Frank de Boer is proud of his team which, despite the obstacles of a penalty and being one man down, still managed to reach the Europa League group phase. “The fact that we made it is the most important thing, but this is bad for your heart – and your hair."
The last half hour went by at a snail’s pace for the Ajax coach. “Normally the time flies, but this went by so slowly. But it’s good for Dutch football and for Ajax that we’re through. Because you can see how tough European matches can be.”
Credit to Cillessen
It was a tough evening for Jasper Cillessen too, but he can draw confidence from a penalty that didn’t go in. “I count that as a stop for Jasper”, said the coach afterwards. “Because if it had gone between the posts, he would have had it.” The keeper also gives himself the credit. “It missed, so I’m counting it. I was going crazy because it would have been 1-0 otherwise, and we would have had to play overtime and then it may have been 2-0. We didn’t play well today, but we defended well. Tomorrow we’ll see what we need to do better. Right now, I’m just very relieved.”
De Boer: “The players’ thinking was good today. We went much deeper than in the home game. But now we need to make the right choice about who we send the ball to. There was a good transition moment, too. It was a shame that Anwar took that dive, but if he’d stayed standing, there was a big chance that a goal would have been scored.”
The coach was obviously less impressed with Bazoer’s second yellow card: “People ask what is still missing in his playing. Well, this. He wasn’t standing in the right place, he needed the field in front of him and he didn’t have it. He can still make big steps in terms of defense, as a midfielder. That’s why he needs this type of matches.”
And, fortunately, Ajax still has at least six more Europa League matches.