Ajax did good business to qualify for the preliminary round of the UEFA Champions League this weekend, but the level of play was lower then the last few weeks. But Ajax defeated De Graafschap (1-0) and AZ lost again.
After the win against De Graafschap Ajax have four finals left. And the next opponents will be tougher than this one. ,,Matches against AZ, PSV and Feyenoord are easier to approach, but it was our intention to play freshly and aggressively'', coach Danny Blind said after the match. ,,Expectations were high today, but we couldn't fulfill them.''
Even with ten players - Dejan Kalezic was sent off after 34 minutes after fouling Wesley Sneijder on his way to the goal - De Graafshcap kept on making things difficult.
After a 0-0 halftime score, Blind took off defender Urby Emanuelson and brought on Daniël de Ridder.
The ArenA erupted twice after a Greek goal. But the first time, Charisteas was offside and the second time, sub Anastasiou - on for Babel - was called back. But just seconds later, Anastasiou headed it in and no linesman could find fault in that: 1-0. Anastasiou waved Maxwell's shirt after his goal and showed the team hadn't forgotten their injured teammate.
,,We are happy with the points", Blind declared. ,,In this phase, they are very important, because of the preliminary round of the Champions League. But I am not happy with the way we played. After the euforia from the past weeks, we now know there is lots of work to do. But that's OK. We need time to grow.''