One moment of brilliance and killer instinct brought Ajax three valuable points in the home match against lowly Willem II: 1-0. Markus Rosenberg became the match winner in the Amsterdam ArenA when he headed in the ball from a cross by Urby Emanuelson.
One moment of carelessness could have given the match a different outcome. Thomas Vermaelen's pass to Maarten Stekelenburg was poorly handled by the goalkeeper, after which Anouar Hadouir had a huge chance to put the ball in the Ajax goal. For the first time since the opening of the ArenA, the team from Amsterdam will have welcomed a bump in the grass pitch. The Willem II player slipped and the chance was lost.
Until then, Ajax had to make do with tries from distance. Something young starter Jeffrey Sarpong also attempted. The small number 38 of Ajax did well this Wednesday. The teenager could look back on a fine debut as a starter, a debut under far from easy cicumstances.
,,A slightly better second half followed a bad first one'', said Danny Blind. ,,We reached one goal, and that was getting three points.''
Tomás Galásek had to be taken off at halftime. The midfielder suffered a slight hamstring pull. The captain is expected to miss up to two weeks. He was replaced by John Heitinga, and Hedwiges Maduro went to midfield. With a more offensive role for left back Urby Emanuelson and an again effective Olaf Lindenbergh, Ajax took the initiative in the second half. It was the prelude to a priceless goal of Swedish origin. Nine minutes into the second half, Emanuelson sent a cross to Rosenberg who headed in the ball with a bounce: 1-0.
That smallest of leads could and should have been doubled, but Klaas Jan Huntelaar just missed the ball after Rosenberg had set him up and not much later Zdenek Grygera fired it high over the goal of the team from Tilburg.
The remainder of the match brought some warmth to the hearts of the Ajax afficionados. Young talent Robbert Schilder made his official debut when he replaced Sarpong ten minutes before the end. And with Ajax's rivals for fourth and fifth place all dropping points, the win against Willem II at least accomplished one goal: moving up in the league table.