Ajax could not stop AJ Auxerre's offense in two matches. In the first half i France, Ajax had control over the match, but after Auxerre's second goal, the side lost their calm and Auxerre forced a decision a few minutes before the end. Ronald Koeman called the defeat in the UEFA Cup 'very painful'.
Koeman wanted to battle the French team the same way as in Amsterdam: try to score a quick goal and keep the advantage. A goal by Ajax meant that Auxerre would have to score three times. Auxerre were expected to go on the attack, which would leave room for Ajax. But after half an hour, Ajax got their first chance. Boukhari crossed from the end line to Babel, but the young striker hit it too softly.
A minute later, the home side were on target on the other side. Kalou headed a free kick behind goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg: 1-0. Only then, the team seemed to wake up. Auxerre were the underdogs, but all of a sudden the next UEFA Cup round did not seem so close anymore for Ajax. The team from Amsterdam went on the rampage and it resulted in a gorgeous goal by Ryan Babel. The striker started the attack himself, passed to Rosales on the right who gave it to Trabelsi who delivered a fine cross. Babel hit home mercilessly. ,,That 1-1 gave us a shot in the arm'', Koeman said.
After that, Auxerre kept looking for more. The French smelled their chances, as with Ajax, with the exception of Trabelsi, failed to play any coherent defence. Ten minutes after the break, the home side built on another good attack. Stekelenburg saved initially, but Ajax could not get the ball away and Cheyrou was left to score the goal: 2-1.
That would have been a result with which Ajax would have made the next round. Koeman brought on Urby Emanuelson, who made his debut. Minutes later he also put in Hedwiges Maduro for the first time. And right then, it all went sour. While Auxerre were ready to take a corner kick, Anthony Obodai was taken off for Maduro. The defender had hardly come on, when Auxerre made it 3-1 when Mathis headed it home. ,,Obodai does not have a role in the box with corners. So I could easily make that substitution. It's really awful that the third goal came from a corner kick right before the end'', Koeman said.