Three Ajax players saw action with their country teams on Tuesday evening in the European Cup qualification rounds. The duels were extremely important for Jan Vertonghen (Belgium) and Christian Eriksen (Denmark), as qualification was dependent on them. Gregory van der Wiel had already qualified with the Dutch team. The evening ended well for Eriksen only; Denmark qualified thanks to a 2-1 win against Portugal.
Christian Eriksen experienced a great start with Denmark against Portugal. Former Ajax player Michael Krohn-Dehli opened the scoring in the thirteenth minute. Eriksen took charge of the corners and free kicks, and saw team mate Nicklas Bendtner double the score in the 63rd minute, 2-0. The Danes missed Ajax player Nicolai Boilesen, who sustained an injury during the match against PSV. Denmark seemed poised to make their entry into the European Cup, but Christiano Ronaldo scored one minute into extra time on a free kick, 2-1. The match suddenly became very tense in the last minutes, but the Danes held onto their lead. Thanks to this win, Denmark is the group winner with 19 points in eight matches, and qualifies directly for the European Cup in Poland and the Ukraine.
Jan Vertonghen played an exciting qualifying round match early in the evening against Germany, who had already earned their spot. The Belgians have several players out due to injury, among which former Ajax player Thomas Vermaelen and Ajax player Toby Alderweireld. Moreover, Daniël van Buyten was suspended. Belgium started out very well in Düsseldorf and was the better team for half an hour. But within three minutes, the home team scored twice: Turkish German Òzil opened the score in the thirtieth minute with a beautiful goal, and three minutes later – after a Belgian corner, no less – it was Schürrle who scored after a lightning quick German transition, 0-2. Jan Vertonghen had an opportunity shortly after the break, but his right footed shot disappeared next to the goal. Right after the break, Mario Gomez buried all Belgian hope by bringing the score to 3-0. The Belgian team did play well, and the team scored their token goal, 3-1, courtesy of Fellaini. Since Turkey defeated Azerbeidzjan at home, 1-0, Vertonghen and his team mates will now focus on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They didn’t make the qualification play-offs for a spot in the European Cup 2012.
Gregory van der Wiel is the only Ajax player whose Tuesday night match didn’t have big stakes. The Dutch team is assured of participation in the European Cup, but, in Sweden, the Netherlands wanted to meet their sporting obligation, and end their European Cup qualification round undefeated. This didn’t happen. The Dutch team went down on an early deficit after a Kim Källström, who plays with Ajax’s Champions League adversary, Olympique Lyon. Former Ajax player Klaas Jan Huntelaar sent the 1-1 goal in moments later with a header. This score remained on the board going into the break. Dirk Kuyt brought the score to 2-1, but, via a penalty kick by Sebastian Larsson and a thundering long distance shot from Ola Toivonen, the score was 3-2 for Sweden by the 54th minute. The Dutch team fought to preserve their unbeaten streak, but weren’t successful. AZ player Rasmus Elm came close to making it 4-2 with a free kick from just over the middle line, but keeper Michel Vorm ticked the ball over. The Swedes held on to the lead, despite 73 per cent possession by the Dutch team, and qualify directly for the European Cup as the strongest number 2 team among all pools.