It took 104 minutes for Ajax to qualify for the first group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Grazer AK had tried everything to get Tomás Galásek out of the match. But the midfielder from the Czech Republic refused to bend and made it 2-1 in overtime from the penalty spot.
Tomás Galásek suffered an injury two weeks ago, in the preparation for the first match between Grazer AK and Ajax. He missed the matches against Grazer AK, Vitesse and RBC. Two weeks he was prepared for this match. And with success, because it will always remain a guess how Ajax would have won this one without him. Galásek, of all people, and despite a number of attacks on his body, shot his team into the group stage of the Champions League with a penalty kick in overtime.
GAK tried everything to prevent Ajax from playing their game from the first whistle. But the home side started well and Maxwell's fantastic cross was a great target for Zlatan Ibrahimovic who headed it in well after only 15 minutes. The tall Swede was, with Galásek and Zdenek Grygera, the best Ajax player on the pitch.
Ajax seemed to be cruising. ,,Everything was fine, coach Ronald Koeman sensed. Until five minutes before the half. Julien Escudé slipped and Kollmann put it past goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont. ,,We were nervous the first 15 minutes after halftime'', said Koeman. ,,And that's understandable. The pressure was on. The situation is totally different from last year. We have new players, the team is young and we are not yet where we're supposed to be.''
Ajax made it through the 15 minutes of pressure from Grazer AK. Ajax were stronger and GAK needed many fouls to try and stop Ajax. But no more goals during regulation. In overtime, the Silver Goal rule applied. If one of the teams scores, the half will be played out. And within seconds of the finish of the first half of overtime, referee Ivanov awarded Ajax a penalty when Ehmann touched the ball with his hand. It meant his second yellow card and therefore a red one. Ajax then faced only nine players, because minutes earlier Pötscher had seen his second yellow. Galásek took place behind the ball, and despite attempts by the Austrians to distract him, the Czech blasted the ball past the Austrian goalkeeper. Against nine opponents and with only little time left, Ajax knew they were through to the main European tournament. ,,We needed this'', said Koeman. ,,Now we have time to grow toward the form we had last season.''