Ajax restarted the league with a modest 0-1 win against Heracles in Almelo. Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Maarten Stekelenburg saved the day for the Amsterdam team.
Huntelaar struck fifteen minutes before the end with a gorgeous bicycle kick. Dennis Rommedahl provided the corss from the right wing.
It was one of the scarce highlights in a match in which Ajax had it difficult against Heracles. The artificial turf was especially a problem for the guests. Add to that the fact that Ajax had hardly opportunity to train with a full squad in the past two weeks due to international matches. Jaap Stam and George Ogararu had to be taken off before the end with injuries. Ogararu reinjured his hamstring, something that kept him out of action for the last month. ,,Stam had pain everywhere: ankle, knee and back”, said Ten Cate. ,,We certainly did not play well today. We have to be glad that we left with three points here. But at this point, too many things go wrong for us.’’
Apart from Huntelaar's highlight, there was another crucial moment in the match. Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg saved a penalty by Everton, after Urby Emanuelson had fouled Ricky van den Bergh.
,,Maarten saved it well, excellent reaction’’, Ten Cate said. ,,Maybe goalkeepers' trainer Carlo l’Ami has a little book; anyway, I'm happy with it.''
Ten Cate recognised that his team had trouble with the fighting spirit of the Heracles players. With some more luck, the home side would have struck once or twice. Ten Cate: ,,In the end, I am not satisfied. This was a lucky win and a below-par match for us.’’