Playing Arsenal with a decimated squad is no easy task; conceding a goal after a mere 80 seconds, means a very tough job. It was too much to ask for the again new line-up in which Ajax had to play. Ajax lost their seond match in the Champions League, 1-2.
Ajax had to play against the favourite in the group without Hedwiges Maduro, Wesley Sneijder, Hatem Trabelsi and Mauro Rosales; they all had to take place on the terraces with physical ailments.
With Thomas Vermaelen as central defender, Nigel de Jong who had just passed his fitness test as right back, Ryan Babel on the right wing and Nourdin Boukhari on the left, Ajax had a team practically built up of last-minute solutions. It wouldn't be easy to beat Arsenal in the first place, even if they were playing without the injured Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp and the suspended Robin van Persie.
An error by Urby Emanuelson made it even more difficult, when the left defender's pass was intercepted by Alexander Hleb who found Fredrik Ljungberg. The Swede scored after a mere 80 seconds: 0-1.
Steven Pienaar could have equalised right before halftime but the South-African missed before an almost empty goal.
In the second half Ajax also had chances to come alongside, but Babel (the goalkeeper boxed it away) and Markus Rosenberg (too late with his effort) left chances unused. Rosenberg had come on for Angelos Charisteas, who suffered a head wound after colliding with Kolo Touré.
As if things weren't difficult enough, Ajax had to cope with a crucial mistake by the referee. Reyes broke through, halfway the second half, and only Hans Vonk could stop it. The goalkeeper came late, but withdrew his hands when there would have been contact with the Arsenal forward. Reyes went to the ground and saw his intentions rewarded. Referee Luís Medina Cantalejo awarded Arsenal a penalty on advice by his linesman. Robert Pirès converted the penalty kick.
Two minutes later, Ajax seemed to pull off a stunt. Tomás Galásek saw his shot end up on the post, after which Rosenberg reacted on time: 1-2. Babel could have provided justice, but his shot didn't go on goal but toward the second tier of the stadium.