UEFA Europa League Play-off 1st leg
AFC Ajax 0-1 Rosenborg BK
Johan Cruijff ArenA
Thursday 17th August 2017
A solitary strike from Rosenborg substitute, Samuel Adegbenro thirteen minutes from time left four-time European champions, Ajax in danger of missing out on qualifying for the group stage of the tournament which they graced the final of last season – the defeat leaving Marcel Keizer’s men with it all to do when the two sides lock horns again seven days from now in Trondheim in the return leg of their UEFA Europa League Play-off tie.
With the hosts once more unable to call upon the services of in-demand centre-half Davinson Sanchez – who was locked in talks over a move to Tottenham Hotspur, the Ajax rear guard, which had come under scrutiny in the aftermath of Saturday evening’s shock capitulation at the hands of Heracles, again displayed noticeable frailties in the early stages here with first, Nicklas Bendtner seeing his goal-bound header cleared off the line by Joel Veltman shortly before the quarter hour mark after Andre Onana had been drawn out of position by a Milan Jevtovic cut-back from the by-line before Birger Meling saw his attempted lob of the Ajax ‘keeper clear the onrushing Cameroonian’s crossbar after the marauding left back had been put in the clear by a well-weighted ball from Yann Erik de Lanlay three minutes later.
However, having weathered the reigning Norwegian champion’s early onslaught, Ajax soon took control and very nearly took the lead with twenty six minutes on the clock when, having turned Vegar Eggen Hedenstad inside out, Amin Younes’ speculative cross across the face of the visitor’s goal almost saw Jorgen Skjelvik put the ball past his own ‘keeper, Andre Hansen, who had to be on his toes to deny his own centre half from close range.
Galvanised by this near miss, Younes was soon giving Hedenstad a torrid time once more – the German cutting inside the Rosenborg right back before unleashing a vicious drive which Hansen did well to palm over the bar a minute later before the visiting ‘keeper was again called upon – coming off his line swiftly to deny Mitchell Dijks after the Ajax left back had been put through on goal by an incisive pass from Younes just after the half hour mark.
Having been preferred to Justin Kluivert by coach, Keizer in the Ajax starting XI, David Neres was presented with a glorious chance to break the deadlock six minutes before the break but, despite being found unmarked by at the back post by a deflected Dijks cross from the left, the Brazilian starlet could only scuff his effort wide of Hansen’s left hand upright.
Following the resumption, the home side quickly picked up where they left off and, having seen both Donny van de Beek and Lasse Schone fail to make their early opportunities count, Matthijs de Ligt found himself one-on-one with Hansen, who was off his line smartly to deny the young centre half on the edge of the box before the 18-year-old headed the resultant corner into the ground and over the bar just after the hour mark.
However, despite their dominance, the home side would find themselves behind with thirteen minutes to play when substitute, Samuel Adegbenro capitalised on a rare lapse in concentration by Veltman to put Kare Hedley Ingebrigtsen’s side into the ascendancy – the Ajax skipper failing to cut out an incisive through ball from another replacement – Matthias Vilhjalmsson, which found the Nigerian with time and space to slide the ball past an onrushing Onana.
Try as they might the hosts failed to create much in the way of clear-cut chances in the time that remained leaving Marcel Keizer’s side with it all to do in the return leg in Trondheim in a week’s time.
Man of the Match: Amin Younes (AFC Ajax)
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