Ajax moved themselves in an excellent position to win a spot in the preliminary round of the Champions League. FC Groningen was beaten 2-0 in Amsterdam on an emotional night, in the first match of the playoff finals.
Ajax have to finish the job next Wednesday in the Euroborg stadium in Groningen. ,,This 2-0 brings us in an excellent position for the away match'', said coach Danny Blind. ,,Although with this result, it can still go both ways. We played a good second half and I am proud of my team. But I am disappointed that we did not score the 3-0 or even 4-0. Then we would have decided this series already.''
The coach, passionately cheered by the supporters and involved by his players in the celebrations after the goals, is not enjoying his happiest days as the Ajax boss. Despite the recent successes, his future is uncertain and that makes his job not the easiest at the moment. ,,I asked the players to play the match of their lives. For Ajax, the fans and themselves.''
Markus Rosenberg showed his team the way by scoring after only eight minutes. Nourdin Boukhari started the attack and via Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Groningen's goalkeeper Bas Roorda the ball got to the Swede who fired it in: 1-0.
Boukhari was one of the best Ajax players this night. The dynamic midfielder worked as hard as he has ever done and showed his skills as well. The most prominently when he touched the ball to Angelos Charisteas after Tomás Galásek started it with a great pass. Charisteas left the goalkeeper no chance and scored from close range: 2-0.
Blind was right in saying that Ajax should have scored at least once more. Ryan Babel had a very good chance minutes before the final whistle, but he saw his effort saved by Roorda and Wesley Sneijder missed in the rebound. But a big plus for Ajax was that the team kept a clean slate.