Van der Vaart leads the way in final away match

Van der Vaart leads the way in final away match

As is tradition, Ajax played the last away match in the away strip for next season. Chances are, that Rafael van der Vaart will not wear the shirt often, but his first performance in the blue and white uniform was crucial for the 2-0 victory at Vitesse.

Wesley Sneijder was missing in Danny Blind's starting eleven with a bruised bone in his foot. Rafael van der Vaart took his place in midfield. Vitesse, still playing for a European ticket, used any and all means to try and stop the left midfielder. With hard fouls the team from Arnhem disrupted Ajax's play. And the visitors also used other methods to get through the first half. ,,It was the type of match we expected'', Blind said. ,,Vitesse have a lot of players with, shall I say, a big heart. Very intense and aggressive to the edge. The referee also made that possible. I am proud of my team that we matched Vitesse's style of play.'' But Ajax did not create a single chance in the first half. Goalkeeper Wapenaar had a very quiet first 45 minutes.

Maarten Stekelenburg had more to do. Stijn Schaars' free kick ended up on the cross bar. Vitesse suffered a scare when Michael Jansen was knocked out after 30 minutes. The left back wanted to keep on playing but he was taken off by Vitesse boss Edward Sturing, who brough on Youssouf Hersi, giving the home side an offensive impulse. Five minutes later there was a situation with Stekelenburg, who stopped Amoah with a clean challenge outside his box. ,,At least a free kick", Edward Sturing thought. ,,I was too far away from it, but it looked like Maarten played the ball", said Blind.

Blind had fielded his second goalkeeper with the eye on next season. ,,We want to see how Maarten is doing. That's why he will also play next week. We'll get a better picture of him in relation to the decisions we will have to make for next season. He stopped a penalty at a crucial time, and those are important moments for a goalkeeper.''

Ajax were up 1-0 at that moment. Zdenek Grygera - player of the match on the afternoon -had headed in a free kick by Van der Vaart. Vitesse never recovered from the great save by Stekelenburg, who stopped Amoah's spot kick. The home side were mentally drained and gave Ajax room to operate. Rafael van der Vaart thundered a volley past Wapenaar for 0-2.

Coach Danny Blind was happy with his team and with Van der Vaart. ,,If it were up to me, he woulnd't have to look for a new club. I wouldn't mind working with him for another year." Van der Vaart looked back with a good feeling. ,,I felt like playing again. That was a long time ago. I am really happy. I feel good and I am fit. So then you try some tricks. October 31 was the last time I scored, so this was a sweet feeling.''

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