AMSTERDAM, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Ajax Amsterdam's third-choice striker Ioannis Anastasiou struck twice to clinch a 2-0 victory over Swiss side Thun in Champions League Group B on Tuesday.
The victory takes Ajax up one place to second with four points behind group leaders Arsenal, who have a maximum nine points following a 2-0 win away to Sparta Prague.
'This win was crucial for our chances in the group but also for our confidence considering our performances the last weeks. We really needed this,' said Ajax coach Danny Blind.
In a match filled with missed chances by both teams Anastasiou opened the scoring after 36 minutes and settled the match from close range 10 minutes after the break.
Blind decided to include the Greek striker after finally losing patience with new signing Markus Rosenberg and he also left Dutch international Ryan Babel on the bench.
'I started with (Ioannis) because we know exactly what he can and can't do. In a match like this, with our striker in and around the box, he'll play where his qualities suit best.'
Blind wanted a clinical performance from his side, who began the match with just one point from two games, but Ajax again misfired and spurned two good chances in the first 10 minutes.
After only four minutes Tomas Galasek found Nigel de Jong unmarked but Thun goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic saved. Four minutes later full back Hatem Trabelsi broke through on the right flank to set up Anastasiou but his header went wide.
Swiss surprise package Thun had arrived in Amsterdam believing they could earn a point after their fine start with a narrow defeat at Arsenal and shock home win over Sparta Prague.
However, Thun forward Mauro Lustrinelli, playing a lone role up front, wasted two first half opportunities to upset the home side as the visitors tried to strike on the counter attack.
First, he was a toe length short of knocking in a Rodrigues Gelson cross and then shortly before the break his acrobatic close range attempt was saved by Ajax's Maarten Stekelenburg.
In between Lustrinelli's chances Anastasiou broke the deadlock after holding off Ljubo Milicevic and placing the ball inside the near post following a cross by Steven Pienaar.
Early in the second half both sides continued to miss good chances as Pienaar fired over from close range while Lustrinelli found the excellent Stekelenburg in his way again.
But Anastasiou was on target again when a blocked ball by defender Alen Orman ended up at his feet and he reacted quickly to slot the ball home and seal the victory for Ajax.
'We came to take a point home and it did not work out like we wanted,' said Thun coach Urs Schonenberger. 'We were also a bit impressed by our opponents and the stadium we played in.'
'We had our chances but were too nervous to convert them. Throughout the match we had the idea to be patient to achieve our aim but after the second goal it was over.'