Narrow win caps off turbulent season

Ajax defeated FC Groningen by 2-1 and that made for slightly happier faces all around. The match itself can be forgotten quickly, as Ajax never reached their form of the past weeks. Rafael van der Vaart scored in probably his last match for the club and Daniël de Ridder made the winning goal.

The match symbolised the whole season. It wasn't great, but Ajax got the result in the end. Today that meant the three points, over the season it meant preliminary round of the Champions League.

Coach Danny Blind did not spend too many words on the match. ,,It was one of those days that everything went wrong. It started in the dressing room when the drains came up. On the pitch, the sprinklers went on and I heard music through the PA system two minutes before the end of the match.”

His team played in a snail-like pace and it almost seemed as if Groningen were saying goodbye to their fans in their last home match of the season. They played with more inspiration than Ajax.

The visitors deservedly took the lead one minute before halftime. Erik Nevland scored the goal. Only after 64 minutes, the home side levelled. Rafael van der Vaart scored after combining with Tomás Galásek and Hedwiges Maduro, who would be voted Ajax talent of the season.

Fifteen minutes before the end, Daniel de Ridder scored his second goal of the season and gave Ajax the eighth victory in a row. ,,But we played badly today'', Blind said. ,,The first half was a disgrace and I was happy that we played well for fifteen minutes in the second half. It feels better to win the last match of the season. But this was a lesson for me and the team. Quality prevails only if you put in enough effort.''

Blind took off Rafael van der Vaart a few minutes before the end and the midfielder, who already has an agreement with German side HSV, received a standing ovation in what was likely his last match for Ajax.

Blind has six weeks to put together his squad for next season. On Monday 4 July Ajax have their first training session for the 2005-2006 season.