The Amsterdam ArenA was roaring with excitement after the final whistle. At last Ajax had defeated PSV after an excellent second half: 2-1. With good teamwork, the right spirit and beautiful goals the reigning champions were beaten. And it was about time, historically speaking.
The last time Ajax had defeated PSV in Amsterdam was on 22 January 1995. Finally, on 8 February 2004 the negative streak came to an end. And apart from the result, it was also memorable for another reason. It was Ajax's 100th league victory in the Amsterdam ArenA.
,,Last year the championship was decided in our matches against PSV. We dropped all six points and they won the title by one point'', said coach Ronald Koeman. This season Ajax drew at PSV and won at home, giving the side four points in the games between the two rivals.
Ajax earned the three points on the day, but it could have gone wrong again. ,,In the first half PSV were better'', said Koeman. ,,They were calmer than we were. Maybe that's the difference in experience.
Although the Ajax defence, with the excellent Johnny Heitinga and Julien Escudé managed to shut down PSV strikers Kezman and Vennegoor of Hesselink, it was the latter who headed in a Van Bommel free kick for the 0-1.
Victor Sikora had a huge chance to tie the score shortly before halftime, but the left winger found goalkeeper Waterreus on his way.
Ajax were determined not to be defeated on the afternoon. Vennegoor missed an open chance and then the home side went on the attack. Six minutes into the second half, Wesley Sneijder equalised with a fantastic strike from distance: 1-1.
Nicolae Mitea, who had come on for the injured Sikora, made it 2-1 in the 61st minute. The young Romanian winger fired after a rush on the left side. Waterreus deflected his effort, but Mitea was quick to react and put in the rebound from up close.
The only question was if the young Ajax team could hold on for half an hour more against experienced PSV. It was a thriller. In the final minutes, Yannis Anastasiou, who made his debut for Ajax, scored but the goal was disallowed for off-side. Maarten Stekelenburg reacted well against a difficult shot by Kezman and a header by the top scorer in Holland. After the final whistle, when Ajax had managed to hold on to the lead, the players celebrated the victory as if the title had just been won and threw their shirts into the celebrating crowd.
,,I don't think that the race for the championship is over'', Koeman reacted afterwards. ,,But this victory has given us a boost and is probably a bit of a blow for PSV.''