‘We did not expect this’

‘We did not expect this’

Ajax are finished in Europe. Dinamo Zagreb were too strong over two matches for Henk en Cate's team. The coach was shocked afterwards. ,,This is killing.”

Ajax came up short after two matches against Dinamo Zagreb. The 1-0 advantage from the match in Zagreb was given away. After overtime, the guests won 2-3 in Amsterdam. ,,We did not expect this'', Ten Cate said. ,,We created chances, but did not convert them. Dinamo did better with their chances. This feels like a real blow, this is killing.” Ajax seemed uncomfortable in the own ArenA. Especially the first half was below par for the home side. ,,It seemed as if there was fear in the team”,Ten Cate said. ,,Nobody dared to play forward.”

After a little over 30 minutes, the teams were level. Gregory van der Wiel fouled Mandzukic and caused a penalty. Captain Modric converted the spot kick. ,,Maybe it wasn't too smart from Greg to search the challenge there'', said Ten Cate. ,,But I don't blame him, because I don't think it was a penalty.''

Ajax started to rebound after an hour. Luis Suarez had some chances, but the South American lacked precision in his finishing. After ninety minutes, overtime was needed. Zagreb wasted very little time. Mandzukic headed in the ball from a cross from the right. And before Ajax could get it together, it was 0-3. It was again Mandzukic who struck.

Ajax went on to play all or nothing (Jaap Stam played up front next to Huntelaar and sub Urzaiz). That resulted in two goals for the Dutch league leaders. Klaas Jan Huntelaar made it 1-3 right away and 2-3 a minute before the final whistle. ,,Ajax came up short today”, Ten Cate said. ,,It's a big blow for us. But I have to make some guys a compliment. Jaap Stam and Hedwiges Maduro for instance. They were not fit anymore, but they kept on going. That was real class.”