Football: Struggling Ajax no longer invincible

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The Independent Online
All is not well at Ajax. It is far too early to talk of a crisis at the Dutch champions and European Cup runners-up, but they clearly have much to do to build a winning team after all the close-season departures from Amsterdam.

After suffering some embarrassing pre-season defeats, Ajax managed to scramble a midweek home win over Breda in their opening League game, but on Saturday they lost 2-0 at humble Heerenveen. Second-half goals from Romeo Wouden and Jan Dahl Tomasson were too much for the champions, who were without the injured Marcio Santos, Winston Bogarde, Jari Litmanen and Marc Overmars.

PSV Eindhoven and Vitesse Arnhem are the only 100 per cent teams after two matches - PSV saw off Groningen 4-1 yesterday and Vitesse beat Utrecht 1-0 despite having two men, including the former Everton defender Ray Atteveld, sent off.

In the French First Division, Lens are the only side with maximum points from three matches. The Czech Euro 96 striker, Vladimir Smicer, scored their goal in a 1-0 win at Nantes. Marseille were beaten 2-1 at home by Metz while Monaco went down by the same margin at Guingamp, for whom both goals were scored by Christopher Wreh, who is on loan from... Monaco.

The veteran Austrian striker, Toni Polster, hit two goals in the last four minutes to earn Cologne a 3-1 win at Freiburg in Germany's Bundesliga. Cologne are the only club with three wins out of three.

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