Ajax won the playoffs for the second year in a row. Henk ten Cate's team defeated AZ in the ArenA by 3-0 and provided a great finish to the season.
With that, the season can be labeled a success. ,,We have won the Cup, played for the title until the final second and we qualified for the preliminary round of the Champions League”, Henk ten Cate said. ,,We are very happy now.”
Ten Cate was not only pleased with the win itself, but also with the way his team disposed of AZ. Especially the second half, in which all three goals were scored, delighted the coach. ,,We were very strong. We won almost all the challenges in midfield. And up front, Huntelaar was particularly fantastic.”
Things did not go so smoothly in the first half. Ajax had the initiative, but could not create enough chances. AZ were leaning on their advantage, stalling for time and looking for a quick counter attack. After 30 minutes, Ten Cate brought on Tom de Mul for Nicolae Mitea, who started for the first time in a while. ,,We were too tense in the first half. Especially Mitea blocked. I did not like it, but I had to take him off.”
De Mul went to the right and Babel moved to his favourite left wing. Ajax became more dangerous but the best chance was for AZ. Shota Arveladze hit the crossbar in the 43rd minute. In the last minute of the half, Edgar Davids and John Heitinga were dangerous with free kick.
Ajax began the second half well and had a good chance through Thomas Vermaelen, who hit the post. Then the Ajax attacks came quickly. John Heitinga made it 1-0 in the 56th minute when he shot in a free kick by Kenneth Perez. A minute later AZ defender Ryan Donk helped Ajax by sliding the ball in his own goal.
AZ coach Louis van Gaal brought on Danny Koevermans for added power but the striker suffered a head wound and was largely ineffective. For Ajax, Hedwiges Maduro replaced Kenneth Perez. The midfielder combined with Huntelaar in the last minutes, but the attack stranded. Gabri did score. Klaas Jan Huntelaar broke through and touched it to the Spansih midfielder: 3-0.
,,I have to give my team a big compliment”, Ten Cate said about the season. ,,It was not always easy this first year, but the group has done a fantastic job.”