It did not cost Ajax much effort to leave Groningen with three points. FC Groningen simply was not good enough. Two goals by Van der Vaart and one by Van der Meyde made the difference. The game ended in 1-3. Highlight of the second half was the debut of Nourdin Boukhari for Ajax.
On one of the supporters web sites the Ajax players were asked to support the Ajax fans, who were barred from the game by Groningen-mayor Wallage, by slowly passing the ball around and not exert themselves too much. It appeared the players had listened, for the absolute will to win was lacking with nearly everybody.
To the dismay of coach Ronald Koeman, who had very few good things to say about his team after the 3-1 win. ,,We did not play well and did not give a hundred percent. This was one of those matches where you can really get a high score and it did not happen. We even gave away a goal through a blunder by Bergdølmo.
The start of the match looked promising for Ajax, but that was mainly due to the fact that the home side played so poorly. Jordi Hoogstrate illustrated that in the 13th minute. The young midfielder tried to pass back to his defence only to see Ajax pick up the ball. Mido passed to Sikora who produced his first of a series of good crosses. With a seemingly easy move Van der Vaart scored the opening goal.
Not until the 20th minute did Groningen come near Ajax-goalkeeper Stekelenburg. Defender Boekweg fired from distance but just missed. Ajax should have been warned. Minutes later Elshot came forward and the back released a good strike that hit the bottom of the cross bar.
In the 32nd minute Koeman replaced Mido with Zlatan. ,,I did not get the impression that Mido was giving it his all. I wanted to take him off after 15 minutes, but I tried it for 15 more. It makes me very sad that he gave me the idea that he was not doing his best.
Zlatan did, at least for the most part, slightly better. A pass by the Swedish striker came to Sikora, who made another excellent cross. Again, Van der Vaart easily put it away, 0-2.
In the second half Groningen tried to put Ajax under more pressure. Although never giving a maximum effort, Ajax did not have trouble scoring 3-0. Of all players, Andy van der Meyde, maybe the worst Ajax player on the afternoon, headed in the 3-0 after yet another good cross by Sikora.
Only after Pius Ikedia, hired out to Groningen by Ajax, had tricked his former team mate Bergdølmo twice and Hugo made it 1-3 with a little help from John OBrien, it seemed that Ajax would get a more difficult last part of the game. Groningen tried a offensive but it did not last very long. In the final minutes Nourdin Boukhari could make his debut for Ajaxs first team.
Ajax had won again and had played poorly again. Koeman wasnt mild in his criticism of his players after the game. ,,The cohesion and the desire are not as great as last season. If we play like this in Europe, we dont stand a chance in the Champions League. I know we have won three points again, but I see that the players are not as sharp as they have to be.