Ajax won their first game of the seaosn in their home debut: 1-0 against Roda JC. Despite a strange preparation, Marco van Basten's team left a fine impression.
,,I thought we played a good game”, Marco van Basten said. ,,But we missed too many chances. That was a shame, because it stayed a bit too close until the end. What I really liked is that we fought as a team right until the last second.”
Things could have been quite different, looking at the preparation of the team for the first home match. Because of the period of international matches, Van Basten did not have a nearly complete squad until Friday. Nearly, because Uruguayan internationals Luis Suarez and Bruno Silva had problems with their flight and did not report back until Saturday. Van Basten decided that they would begin on the bench.
Jeffrey Sarpong (left wing) and Leonardo (right wing) started and Miralem Sulejmani was placed behind striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar. At right back Gregory van der Wiel replaced Silva.
Ajax began the match against Roda in convincing fashion. Especially Klaas Jan Huntelaar had a number of good chances. Sulejmani, whom Roda had much difficulty with, also came close to making it 1-0. Roda created few chances but defended well in the first half.
The Ajax goal was scored by a defender. Thomas Vermaelen headed in a corner kick by Sulejmani in the 54th minute. Right after that, Suarez replaced Leonardo and he gave the Ajax attack more creative impulses. There were plenty of chances, but the second goal would not come. That enabled Roda to stay in the game, forcing Van Basten to bring on Rasmus Lindgren at the expense of Huntelaar ten minutes before the end. ,,Roda put us under pressure and we wanted more control in midfield'', Van Basten said.
Roda JC had one big chance, but Maarten Stekelenburg came up with a timely and excellent save. Ajax won 1-0 and can start preparing for the UEFA Cup match against FC Borac with a good feeling. Whether Gabri will play on Thursday is yet unsure. ,,We will decide if he can travel with us to Serbia on Tuesday'' Van Basten said about the midfielder who has an ankle injury. ,,He has not trained with the group yet, bu it is getting better and better.”