Ajax suffer first defeat under De BoerBy: Mohamed | January 24th, 2011
The honeymoon period is over. Important tests, is how Jan Vertonghen, last Friday, described the week awaiting Ajax, with the away match against FC Utrecht and NAC Breda, and the midweek cup match against NAC. At FC Utrecht, the first of these tests ended very badly. Ajax missed a golden chance to close the gap on Eredivise leaders PSV Eindhoven to just a point as they were comprehensively beaten at FC Utrecht.
A win for Frank de Boer’s men would have been just the tonic they needed as speculation over striker Luis Suarez’s future intensifies, but the Amsterdam club fell horribly short, historically away trips to Utrecht haven’t been the best for Ajax (despite winning 3 of the last 4 visits).
De Boer chose for the same line-up as last Wednesday against Feyenoord for this match in Stadion Galgenwaard. That meant that Daley Blind was on left back once again. Urby Emanuelson was absent in the Domstad. The dyed in the wool Ajax player is Milan-bound. According to de Boer, the transfer is as good as complete, save for a few details.
“We would have preferred to keep him, but Urby made it clear that he was ready to leave. I would have rather seen him stay for another six months. Urby is a top Ajax player, and I wish him all the best with AC Milan. We’re going to do our best to make sure he can say a proper goodbye to the club and the supporters. We need to solve the issues created by his departure internally. Firstly, with Blind. It’s up to him to show us that he’s ready for this.” Emanuelson’s absence freed up a spot on the squad for midfielder Rodney Sneijder. The 19 year old Ajax player (on the bench with number 43), Wesley’s brother, has been in Ajax’s youth training program since 2000, and had a taste of the real work ahead in his hometown.
A first-half brace from Edouard Duplan set the tone for Utrecht, with Ismo Vorstermans wrapping things up late on.
The home side set their stall out early on, hitting the post in the 21st minute.
A cross from Michael Silberbauer was met by the head of Frank Demouge who was unlucky to see his effort rebound back into play.
It did not hold up Utrecht’s charge for too much longer, though, with Duplan breaking the deadlock inside the next 60 seconds.
Duplan slipped in to steal the ball in midfield, stormed down the right channel and into the box from where he slammed home an unstoppable drive to put his side ahead.
With Ajax reeling from that, they found themselves furher behind two minutes later, with Duplan again on target.
Kevin Strootman’s cross drew out and cleared Maarten Stekelenburg, allowing Duplan to nod home unchallenged from inside the six-yard box.
Demouge was an impressive figure for Utrecht and he saw another header go close before the break, this time the brilliance of Stekelenburg keeping him out.
Utrecht’s defence had been resolute but, their standards dropped momentarily after the break as they nearly let Ajax in.
Jacob Lensky tried to play the ball back to goalkeeper Michel Vorm but, failed to notice the lurking Miralem Sulejmani who nipped in but was unable to get the better of Vorm who did well to make himself big.
That proved to be Ajax’s last chance of getting back into the game as, with seven minutes remaining, Silberbauer centred for Vorstermans who did the rest.
After the game De Boer said: “This is a good learning process for our young team. Getting here is ‘easy’ for young players, but staying is much harder. That was clear this afternoon. They can’t always play a 6.5. A few of them played a 4 this afternoon. And then, against Utrecht at the top of their game, you fall flat on your face. During the break, I asked the players if the match was too early for them. It looked like a few of them were still asleep.”
Ajax must now regroup for the KNVB Beker tie at home to NAC Breda on Thursday.