De Mul, Boukhari impress against FC Twente

Ajax started their league season with a good result against FC Twente. The team won 3-2 in Enschede, the place where last season the home team won 2-0. Zlatan Ibrahimovic made it 0-3 right after halftime and the match seemed all but over. ,,Incredible that we got into so many problems'', said Ronald Koeman afterwards, as FC Twente nearly caught up with Ajax. Tom de Mul played well in the first match he played from start to finish.

Tomás Galásek was not fully fit and Anthony Obodai took his place in midfield. This meant that Nigel de Jong moved to right back and Julien Escudé played alongside Johnny Heitinga as a central defender.

Up front Koeman made a remarkable choice. Nourdin Boukhari started, after playing his last match for Ajax on 29 May 2003, on the left wing. He played so well against Twente, that Koeman did not want to let him go, on loan to NAC Breda. ,,He is still a player of Ajax. It's never too late. He played well and worked hard. We are are not about to let eveybody leave. Considering Mitea's injury and Soetaers' suspension, I don't think he will play in the NAC shirt against Ajax next Sunday.''

Boukhari played agressively and smart, but the most attention went to the other winger, Tom de Mul. The young Belgian, not yet considered a fixture on the right by the coaching staff who keep hoping for a more experienced right winger, stole the show. With sharp crosses, fanatical play and a fantastic goal after 30 minutes. De Mul moved toward the middle and fired with his left foot. ,,I practiced that", he said after the match. Sander Boschker, former Ajax goalkeeper and now back with Twente, was defeated for the first time.

Ajax had the match under control and doubled the margin five minutes before halftime. First De Mul hit the cross bar and captain Rafael van der Vaart got to the ball first and put away the rebound: 0-2.

The match seemed all but over, especially when Zlatan Ibrahimovic, on assist by Boukhari, scored after only 16 seconds of play in the second half. ,,It should have been an important moment in the match'', Koeman said. ,,Incredible that we let them come back. We could not give any more pressure in midfield and up front. Although Twente did not create many good chances, they scored twice.''

First Twente scored from a corner kick and minutes later an Ajax defender seemed to touch the ball with his hand. But referee Bossen missed it - Koeman did not: 'I saw that from 60 metres away' - and the home team made it 2-3 after poor defending by Escudé. ,,We weren't ourselves in that phase of the game'', Koeman complained. ,,I could have kept upsetting myself but I chose to substitute three players at the same time. I would not do that again any time soon, but something had to change. I took off Van der Vaart and Ibrahimovic, also because they had a yellow card and I did not want to take any risk." Obodai also went out and in came Wesley Sneijder, Wesley Sonck and Tomás Galásek.

After that Ajax came back on track. The team from Amsterdam had the better chances, but Wesley Sonck and Wesley Sneijder waisted good opportunities. Therefore it stayed close to the end, but Ajax got away with a narrow but important win.