Individual class enough for victory

Ajax never sparkled against FC Utrecht, but one moment of individual class proved decisive. Rafael van der Vaart scored from one of the rare opportunities the only goal, where Utrecht's Joost Broerse missed the greatest chance of the match. Ajax won 1-0.

Ajax went into the match with Utrecht trying to erase the bad memories of Tuesday's European exit in Brugge, but hardly produced good combinations, especially in the first half. Anthony Obodai replaced the injured Tomás Galásek and Rafael van der Vaart started as his team's striker in place of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is still bothered by a sore toe. FC Utrecht had come to Amsterdam mainly not to lose and kept many players behind the ball. Ajax could not find the gaps in the tight Utrecht defence, as the passing of the home side was inaccurate.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic came on at halftime for Nicolae Mitea. He joined Wesley Sonck up front and Van der Vaart moved to midfield. Ibrahimovic showed flashes of brilliance but could not make the difference. ,,We did put Utrecht under more pressure and created more chances'', coach Ronald Koeman said.

Ajax seemed unable to score, however, on the afternoon. Yet fifteen minutes before the end, Utrecht's defence faltered one time. Maxwell provided the cross and the unmarked Van der Vaart struck with his right foot: 1-0.

,,We have enough players who only need one moment, without them playing well. Just like Van der vaart today, you hope for that one chance. After the disappointment in Brugge we really wanted to win today but we did not have the power. Joost Broerse could have made it 1-1 in the final minutes'', Koeman said.

But where Van der Vaart came out of nowhere to score, Broerse failed to beat Lobont from close range and Ajax still lead the Dutch league.