Rosenborg make Ajax concentrate on the Eredivisie

UEFA Europa League Play-off 2nd leg

Rosenborg BK 3-2 AFC Ajax

(Rosenborg win 4-2 on aggregate)

Lerkendal Stadion

Thursday 24th August 2017

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A late brace from super-sub, Samuel Adegbenro sealed Norwegian champions, Rosenborg BK’s place in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League and, at the same time, consigned four-time European champions, Ajax to a season without continental competition.

Having seen their visitors escape with an undeserved one-goal advantage after their initial meeting in Amsterdam a week earlier, Ajax wasted little time in attempting to claw themselves back on level terms as a poorly judged back-pass from left back, Birger Meling almost inadvertently played in Kasper Dolberg – home ‘keeper, Andre Hansen being forced to scramble to deny Ajax’s Danish starlet on the edge of his box with just two minutes on the clock.

Ajax coach, Marcel Keizer had opted to rest both Dolberg and Lasse Schone during Sunday’s victory over Groningen before restoring both to the starting XI here and with Dolberg having already gone close early on, five minutes later, a swift counter-attack from the visitors culminated in Schone teeing up Hakim Ziyech, whose low drive from the edge of the area was clawed behind by the Rosenborg glovesman.

However, despite the visitor’s early dominance, history soon repeated itself as the home side took the lead with their first real attack of note when, having been found in acres of space on the right by skipper, Mike Jensen, Fredrik Midtsjø picked out an unmarked Nicklas Bendtner at the back post, whose diving header past an exposed Andre Onana broke the deadlock on the evening and doubled the host’s advantage in the tie overall with twenty five minutes gone.

Having taken the tie by the scruff of the neck, the hosts very nearly added a second when Yann Erik de Lanlay cut in from the left and was inches away from picking out a sliding Bendtner at the back post eight minutes before the break.

With elimination staring them in the face, the visitors wasted little time attempting to reduce the arrears following the interval – half time substitute, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar being denied by the outstretched right leg of the onrushing Hansen after a long ball from Ziyech had split the home defence and set the veteran marksmen through on goal.

The away side continued to press with both Nick Viergever and Schone going close early in the second half before Ziyech saw his drive from range palmed over the bar by Hansen in the 59th minute.

From the resultant corner the ball was worked, via Mitchell Dijks, to the opposite flank before Joel Veltman’s dinked cross from the edge of the area found an unmarked Amin Younes, who slotted the ball past a scrambling Hansen from just outside the box to bring Ajax back into the tie on the hour mark.

Remarkably, just a minute later the visitors edged ahead on aggregate by virtue of the away goals rule – Younes cutting inside Midtsjø before hitting the by-line and picking out the late run of an untracked Schone at the back post with a pinpoint low cross which the Dane swept past Hansen to put the away side ahead both on the night and in the tie overall.

Anders Konradsen quickly attempted to redress the balance for the shell-shocked hosts – the 27-year-old’s drive from well outside the area cannoning off Onana’s left hand upright three minutes later.

However, it was the away side who looked the most likely to add another and fifteen minutes from time Hansen had to be on his toes once more to deny second half, substitute, Vaclav Cerny who, having got the jump on Meling, saw his effort turned aside by the Norwegian ‘keeper at his near post.

The visitors continued to search for a knock-out blow and, just two minutes later, went even closer as Younes, having evaded the attentions of Konradsen, saw his curling effort from just outside the area clip the outside of Hansen’s left hand upright.

Having drawn a blank in the 1st leg, Kare Hedley Ingebrigtsen had turned to substitute, Samuel Adegbenro – whose subsequent strike thirteen minutes from time had handed the Norwegian champions the advantage ahead of this return encounter, and twenty-two minutes from time the Rosenborg coach turned to the Nigerian forward once more.

Remarkably, the switch again proved an inspired one as the 21-year-old soared above Matthijs de Ligt and Viergever at the back post to head an in-swinging cross from de Lanlay past a static Onana – levelling the scores on the evening and edging the home side ahead once more in the tie overall, ten minutes from time.

Incredibly, a minute from time, the Nigerian then capped an astonishing one-man rescue act – capitalising on a slip from Schone before evading the attentions of both second half substitute, Deyovaisio Zeefuik and Ajax skipper, Veltman to fire the ball beyond Onana and seal Rosenborg’s place in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League while condemning the side that graced the final of last year’s tournament to a season without any form of continental competition.

Man of the Match: Samuel Adegbenro (Rosenborg BK)   


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Troillongan serve Ajax defeat

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.

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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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Chelsea boy Traore helps Ajax be triumphant





A brace from Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore helped Ajax hit Olympique Lyonnais for four in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final tie at the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday evening to leave the four-time European champions with one foot in the final of a major continental competition for the first time in twenty one years.

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Despite the French side bagging a valuable away goal through a second half strike from Mathieu Valbuena, Ajax’s three-goal cushion sees Peter Bosz’s side head into next Thursday evening’s 2nd leg at the Parc OL very much in the driving seat.

With late strikes from first, Nick Viergever and then Amin Younes in the second half of extra time in Gelsenkirchen having seen Ajax clinch a first semi-final berth in continental competition in two decades, a subsequent loss in Eindhoven at the hands of outgoing back-to-back champions, PSV last time out had seen Bosz’s troops fall four points off the pace of league leaders, Feyenoord – who, with just two games of the domestic season left to play in the Netherlands, now seem certain to clinch their first Eredivisie crown since 1999, Ajax’s focus now centred on reaching the final of a European club competition for the first time since the then defending champions had narrowly lost out to Juventus following an agonising penalty shoot-out in the final of the UEFA Champions League at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico in 1996.

Remarkably, Ajax had managed to clinch a place in the last four of Europe’s second tier club competition despite having been reduced to ten men during the 2nd leg of their quarter final tie in Germany – Joel Veltman having been given his marching orders after the Dutch international had picked up a second yellow card for blocking the run of Algerian international, Nabil Bentaleb mid-way inside the visitor’s half ten minutes from time. As a result, both he and Viergever – who accrued one booking too many in Gelsenkirchen, were forced to watch the 1st leg from the stands with Jairo Riedewald and Kenny Tete drafted in as cover.

Having eventually seen off the challenge of Turkish champions, Besiktas following an epic penalty shoot-out – Lyon’s quarter final tie having ended 3-3 on aggregate after Bruno Genesio’s side had slipped to a 2-1 defeat in the 2nd leg at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, the French side arrived in the Netherlands somewhat understrength with talismanic forward, Alexandre Lacazette only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench.

However, it was the away side who made much of the early running and Genesio’s side went close to taking the lead with just ten minutes on the clock when, having stolen a march on Davinson Sanchez, Maxwel Cornet’s sliding effort from close range was turned behind by a smart save by Andre Onana after Lucas Tousart had picked out the 20–year-old on the edge of the box with a sharp cut-back from the by-line.

Following a sluggish start to proceedings the home side suddenly came to life in the 25th minute and hit the front via the deftest of touches from Bertrand Traore – the Chelsea loanee glancing home a Hakim Ziyech free kick from the right which left Lyon ‘keeper, Anthony Lopes rooted to the spot.

Eleven minutes before the interval the hosts doubled their advantage when, having shown Mouctar Diakhaby a clean pair of heels, Danish starlet, Kasper Dolberg punished a poor clearance by Lopes that had only managed to find the head of Traore – whose vision had initially put the 19-year-old in the clear, by rifling home his twentieth goal in all competitions this term.

The home side could have enjoyed a three-goal advantage at the break but, having unlocked the visiting defence once more via a crisp give-and-go between both he and Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen, Amin Younes was then denied by the reflexes of Lopes with a minute of the half remaining.

Having very nearly been made to pay for failing to put quarter final opponents, Schalke 04 to the sword during a dominant 1st leg display in the previous round, Bosz’s side emerged for the second half with purpose and added a third four minutes after the resumption when an incisive through ball from Ziyech found Younes with time and space to beat both Lopes and the best efforts of Diakhaby – whose clearance from behind the line came a split second too late.

The home side could have put the tie to bed three minutes later but, having dispossessed Nicolas Nkoulou just inside the visitor’s half, Dolberg saw his venomous effort from range repelled by Lopes, who, five minutes later, was again called into action – the Portuguese international this time turning away a Traore drive from the right edge of the area.

With a proverbial mountain to climb, the away side eventually showed signs of life and bagged a valuable away goal when Mathieu Valbuena rifled home from just inside the area after the home side failed to deal with a Christophe Jallet cross from the right in the 66th minute.

Genesio’s side had enjoyed their last encounter with Dutch opposition – having hit AZ Alkmaar for eleven over two legs earlier in the competition and, buoyed by Valbuena’s strike, the away side could have bagged a second just two minutes later but for the quick thinking of Onana who was out smartly to deny Nabil Fekir after substitute, Rachid Ghezzal had put the 23-year-old in the clear with only the Cameroonian to beat.

However, backed by a raucous home crowd which included the man who masterminded the club’s triumph in the competition (under its previous guise as the UEFA Cup) in  1992 before guiding Ajax to UEFA Champions League glory three years later – Louis van Gaal, the home side set themselves on track to emulate the club’s last ‘Golden Generation’ by restoring their three-goal cushion nineteen minutes from time when Ziyech teed up the home side’s star man, Traore for a close range finish with a rifled cross from the left after the Moroccan international’s unchecked run had initially been found by a perfectly weighted chip over the visitor’s back line by Klaassen.

Man of the Match: Bertrand Traore.



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Ajax shock Schalke on way to Semis





(Ajax win 4-3 on aggregate)


Despite being a man down following the second half dismissal of Joel Veltman, goals from Nick Viergever and Amin Younes deep into extra time secured Ajax’s place in the semi-final of a continental competition for the first time in twenty years and also kept Peter Bosz’s side on course for a remarkable double after the Dutch giants overcame hosts, Schalke 4-3 on aggregate – despite losing 3-2 on the night in Gelsenkirchen in the 2nd leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter final tie.

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However, Bosz’s men left it late to seal their place in the final four of the competition as, despite dominating the first leg in Amsterdam, the four-time European champion’s failure to convert more than just a brace of goals from inspirational skipper, Davy Klaassen in the two side’s first encounter would come back to haunt them as, having levelled the tie on aggregate, the home side hit their undermanned visitors with, what appeared to be, a knockout blow six minutes into extra time to put themselves into the driving seat and seemingly cruising towards a semi-final berth until Bosz’s men leapt off the canvas to deliver a one-two punch of their own that left Schalke out for the count.

Having dominated the initial meeting between the sides a week earlier in Amsterdam, the visitors were immediately placed under immense pressure by their German hosts who, despite their lowly league position, could boast an unbeaten home record in the competition ahead of this encounter – Leon Goretzka going close inside a minute before 21-year-old, Max Meyer hit the outside of Andre Onana’s left hand upright with the visitor’s rear guard at sixes and sevens after a simple square ball from Guido Burgstaller had the German international in acres of space on the left.

Despite the home side’s early onslaught, the visitors back line held firm and Ajax – who had lost just five of their 49 matches in all competitions prior to this encounter, went close through the unlikely figure of Nick Viergever, whose acrobatic bicycle kick was gathered at the second attempt by Schalke’s star performer of the first leg – Ralf Fahrmann, after the visitor’s left back was found unmarked at the back post by a Hakim Ziyech corner from the left in the 24th minute.

Having weathered the home side’s early attacking storm, the visitors – who had lost just once since the turn of the year in all competitions ahead of making the trip to Germany, had the ball in the back of Fahrmann’s net just after the half hour mark. However, Romanian referee, Ovidiu Hategan adjudged that Amin Younes had been in an offside position when the former Borussia Monchengladbach man had been found by an incisive through ball from Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore in the 32nd minute.

With no goals at the break, the home side – who, in sharp contrast to the fine form of their guests, came into the 2nd leg of this tie having lost three of their last four in all competitions, appeared to be heading out as Bosz’s side emerged from the interval with a spring in their step – the returning Lasse Schone seeing  Fahrmann push his goal-bound free kick from just outside the area around the Schalke ‘keeper’s right hand upright two minutes after the restart before the 28-year-old was down smartly to deny a Traore daisy cutter from the edge of the area in the 50th minute.

Yet, despite their sluggish start to the second half, it was the hosts who would eventually break the deadlock on the night and claw their way back into the tie – Burgstaller slipping in German international, Goretzka whose low drive from just inside the area beat Onana – despite the 21-year-old getting a hand to the ball, as it rocketed into the back of the Cameroonian’s net in the 53rd minute.

Following the breakthrough there came a noticeable shift in momentum in favour of the home side who doubled their advantage on the night just three minutes later to level the tie on aggregate through Burgstaller – the Austrian forward rifling home a Sead Kolasinac cross from the left from just outside the box to notch his ninth in Schalke colours following his mid-season switch from second tier, Nurnberg.

With the chance of making the final four of a European competition for the first time in two decades seemingly slipping through their fingers, Bosz’s men rallied and went close to restoring their overall advantage in the tie shortly before the hour mark as Ziyech saw his effort from just outside the area palmed to safety by Fahrmann.

However, it was the hosts who were now in firm control of the tie and, shortly after the hour mark, Markus Weinzierl’s men were unlucky not to find a third when a Meyer free kick from the right was headed just wide of Onana’s right hand upright by Benedikt Howedes and, when Joel Veltman was given his marching orders by the Romanian official after picking up a second yellow card for blocking the run of Algerian international, Nabil Bentaleb mid-way inside the visitor’s half ten minutes from time, it appeared only a matter of time before the hosts delivered the knock-out blow to their seemingly punch-drunk guests.

Yet, despite the best efforts of German international, Howedes – who saw his sliding effort gathered at the second attempt by Onana with substitute, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar sniffing for scraps in the fourth minute of added time, with the scores level on aggregate, the tie was sent into extra time.

By this point the away side – for whom this was their sixteenth European outing of what has been a long and winding journey in continental competition that began in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League all the way back on 26th July, were looking weary and it came as little surprise when the hosts delivered, what appeared to be, the killing blow after Kolasinac hit the by-line and dinked the ball to the far post for Daniel Caligiuri who, having out-jumped both Matthijs de Ligt and Viergever, headed the ball past Onana six minutes into extra time.

But, just when it looked as through the Amsterdammer’s European odyssey was at an end – having scored a remarkable 106 goals in all competitions this season, Bosz’s men dug deep to find number 107 through the unlikely figure of Viergever, who, having been denied from range just seconds earlier, diverted home Serbian international, Matija Nastasic’s attempted intervention from the edge of the box – following a Kenny Tete cross from the right that set alarm bells ringing in the Schalke defence, to not only bring Ajax back from the dead but put the four-time European champions ahead in the tie overall by virtue of the away goals rule.

Having seen their advantage turn to dust, the hosts could only watch in horror as the away side – buoyed by Viergever’s strike, threatened to find a second as first, Ziyech was denied by Fahrmann – the Moroccan  having skipped unhindered through the Schalke rear guard, before Viergever squandered another chance after having been sent clear five minutes from time.

In the end, with the hosts chasing in vain for a fourth, it was Ajax who ensured they would emerge victorious in the tie overall by finding their second of the evening in the last minute of extra time through Younes, who – having being slipped in by an incisive pass from Ziyech, evaded the attentions of both Nastasic and substitute, Johannes Geis before drilling the ball past Fahrmann to secure one of the continent’s most decorated clubs a place in the final four of a European competition – one which they won in its previous guise in 1992, for the first time since 1997.

Peter Bosz’s side will now face Lyon – with the 1st leg to come on the 4th May at the Amsterdam ArenA, after the French side overcame Besiktas 7-6 on penalties – their quarter final tie having ended 3-3 on aggregate after Bruno Genesio’s side had slipped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the reigning Turkish champions in the 2nd leg at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, for a place in the final of the competition which will be held in Sweden on 24th May at the Friends Arena in Solna.

Man of the Match: Nick Viergever.


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Davy shows Schalke that his Klaas is permanent





A double from Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen put the four-time European champions in pole position to make the semi-final of a European competition for the first time in 20 years following their 2-0 victory over a lacklustre Schalke 04 in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at the Amsterdam ArenA on Thursday evening.

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Despite the inclusion of Donny van de Beek at the expense of the injured Lasse Schone meaning that the home side’s starting line-up had an average age of just 23, Peter Bosz’s men – who came into this quarter final tie having won nineteen of their last twenty home games in all competitions, scarcely missed a beat in what was, ultimately, one of the best performances from an Ajax side on the European stage in many years.

Following a tentative opening, the game sprang to life in the 12th minute when Daniel Caligiuri’s headed clearance from a Klaassen cross from the left only found its way to van de Beek whose volley from just outside the area was gathered by Schalke ‘keeper, Ralf Fahrmann at the second attempt.

The hosts continued to ramp up the pressure thereafter and were given the opportunity to take the lead just ten minutes later when Hakim Ziyech set a break in motion with a well weighted diagonal which found Amin Younes with time and space on the left to cut inside Thilo Kehrer – whom he would give a torrid evening, before being tripped by Alessandro Schopf inside the visitor’s area leaving Russian official, Sergey Karasev little option but to point to the spot from which Dutch international, Klaassen made no mistake – sending Fahrmann the wrong way to put the hosts into the ascendancy in the 23rd minute.

The home side – who won this competition under its previous guise as the UEFA Cup in 1992, could have doubled their advantage just after the half hour mark but instead saw Matija Nastasic’s attempted clearance rattle Fahrmann’s crossbar after the centre half had been forced to scramble under the attentions of Davinson Sanchez who had remained in the box after a Ziyech corner from the left had only been partially cleared by the Schalke rear guard before being put back into the mixer from the opposite flank by van de Beek.

Having gone in at the break a goal-to-the-good, the home side re-emerged for the second half in determined mood and deservedly doubled their advantage seven minutes after the restart – Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore picking out Justin Kluivert with a measured diagonal ball from just inside the opposition’s half before the 17-year-old then cut in from the right and beat Caligiuri to tee up Klaassen with a nice square ball that found Ajax’s influential skipper with time and space on the edge of the box to half volley the home side’s second of the evening past an exposed Fahrmann in the Schalke net.

From that moment on the chances came thick and fast as Schalke – who came into the tie having posted just three wins in their last thirteen outings in all competitions, were overrun in all areas of the field by their rampant hosts.

Just two minutes later it could have been three when Traore drew a smart save from Fahrmann having been fed by Younes after the diminutive German had intercepted an errant ball from Dennis Aogo on half way before the former Borussia Monchengladbach man then drew a save of his own from Fahrmann three minutes later following a period of concerted pressure before Traore again went close – drawing another stop from Fahrmann a minute later as the hosts threatened to run riot with their visitors seemingly on the ropes.

In the end, Fahrmann proved to be the difference between remaining in the tie and being left a mountain to climb in the return leg in Gelsenkirchen for Markus Weinzierl’s beleaguered troops – the goalkeeper coming to his side’s aid twice in quick succession 23 minutes from time by first denying compatriot, Younes after the 23-year-old had been slipped in by Traore before the Burkinabé forward was then also repelled by the reflexes of Fahrmann – whose back-line melted away before his very eyes, as the man on loan from Stamford Bridge cut between the ineffectual challenges of both Kehrer and Nastasic before getting his shot away.

There was a brief reprieve for the visitors when the stadium rose-as-one to give former Ajax marksman, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar a heroes’ reception when the Dutch international was introduced to proceedings – replacing Schopf, nineteen minutes from time.

The onslaught continued thereafter – the home side going even closer to adding a third fourteen minutes from the end when, having turned a Younes effort around his near post, Fahrmann then had his crossbar rattled for a second time as van de Beek went close from the edge of the area from Ziyech’s resultant corner.

Peter Bosz will hope his side don’t live to regret the plethora of chances they squandered during a dominant second half performance, the last of which fell to Nick Viergever – Fahrmann once more on his toes to deny a point blank header from the Ajax left back after the 27-year-old evaded his marker to connect with another Ziyech corner from the left eleven minutes from time.

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Despite putting in a woeful performance, Schalke – currently languishing in a disappointing tenth position in the Bundesliga standings, who themselves tasted success in this competition twenty years ago, managed to weather the home side’s attacking storm and despite creating nothing of note did give themselves a chance of turning the tie around in the 2nd leg at the Veltins Arena next Thursday evening by escaping with just a two-goal deficit to overcome in front of their own supporters.

Man of the Match: Amin Younes


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Ajax struggle but progress to face Danes






A lone strike by unlikely hero, Nick Viergever four minutes into the second half of a tense and tight 2nd leg at the Amsterdam ArenA ultimately proved enough to earn Ajax passage into the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League at the expense of reigning Polish champions, Legia Warsaw.

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The two sides came into the return leg locked at nil-nil despite the four-time European champions having had a perfectly good goal ruled out in the eighth minute of their initial encounter when skipper, Davy Klaassen’s volley from just outside the box appeared to be fumbled over the line by Legia ‘keeper, Arkadiusz Malarz. However, with referee, David Jose Fernandez Borbalan unsighted and unable to call upon goal-line technology for assistance, the hosts escaped and the score remained goalless ahead of the return match in Amsterdam.

With Kenny Tete suspended following his dismissal in the opening match of this round of 32 tie and Daley Sinkgraven also missing for Peter Bosz’s side, Joel Veltman and Jairo Riedewald were the only changes from the eleven that took the field a week earlier in Warsaw, while Bosz also named Ajax’s recent €12 million signing, David Neres on the bench for the first time for the hosts.

With just one win from four since returning from a lengthy winter break and Miroslav Radovic  missing through suspension, Legia coach, Jacek Magiera opted to leave Czech striker, Tomas Necid on the bench in favour of playing a more compact formation with Michal Kucharczyk effectively operating as a ‘false nine’ in an effort to keep things tight in light of the Polish champion’s defensive frailties in continental competition thus far this season – Legia having taken up their place in the round of 32 by virtue of finishing an unlikely third in a UEFA Champions League group containing Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Sporting Lisbon despite having conceded a whopping 24 goals in the process.

Magiera’s tactics served to stifle the flow of proceedings in a largely uneventful opening period with the host’s best and only real goal-scoring opportunity of note falling to Moroccan maestro, Hakim Ziyech – whose low drive from just outside the area twenty minutes in found its way through a cluster of legs before striking the foot of visiting ‘keeper, Malarz’s left hand upright with Legia centre half, Michal Pazdan forced to scramble the rebound away from the feet of the lurking, Kasper Dolberg on the edge of the box.

Having endured a frustrating opening forty five minutes, the hosts stormed out of the blocks after the break and hit the front four minutes into the second half – Nick Viergever – having been handed a more attacking role on the left due to the absence of Sinkgraven, finding himself in the right place at the right time to tuck away the tie’s opening and ultimately decisive goal after Malarz could only palm a low Amin Younes drive from just inside the area into the 27-year-old’s path.

However, despite commanding the majority of the ball, the hosts failed to assert their authority thereafter, leaving the tie poised on a knife-edge. Yet, with Legia fully aware that a single away goal would swing the result in their favour, the reigning Polish champions – who currently trail league leaders, Lechia Gdansk by five points in the Ekstraklasa, could only fashion one real goal-scoring opportunity of note – Kucharczyk drawing a smart near-post stop from the host’s largely untroubled ‘keeper, Andre Onana seven minutes from time.

Deep into added time, the home side did almost find a second. However, despite boasting a five on one advantage, Ziyech contrived to squander the opportunity to ensure Ajax’s place in the round of 16 – the Moroccan hitting the ball weakly at a grateful Malarz after being played in by Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore who, seconds earlier, had led the length-of-the-field break after visiting substitute, Thibault Moulin’s effort had been charged down on the on the edge of the host’s area following a Legia corner.

In the end, Peter Bosz’s side – who, following AZ Alkmaar’s drubbing at the hands of Lyon, are now the sole Dutch representatives in European competition, didn’t require a second goal to seal their place in the last 16 of the competition where they will now face reigning Danish champions, FC Copenhagen.

 Man of the Match: Nick Viergever


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Ajax held due to officials blunder




Ten-man Ajax came away from a potentially tricky trip to Poland in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie against Legia Warsaw unscathed after the two sides played out a goalless draw at the Polish Army Stadium and the undermanned visitors could have had more had goal-line technology been available to the official.

The four-time European champions appeared to have taken the lead in the eighth minute when Ajax skipper, Davy Klaassen’s volley from just outside the box – following a perfectly placed left wing cross from Hakim Ziyech, appeared to be fumbled over the line by Legia ‘keeper, Arkadiusz Malarz. However, with referee, David Jose Fernandez Borbalan unsighted and unable to call upon goal-line technology for assistance, the hosts escaped and the score remained goalless.

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Following the early controversy, the game entered a tentative feeling out process until a promising break by Amin Younes eleven minutes before the interval was squandered by Ziyech – who fluffed his lines by presenting Malarz with a comfortable save having been played in on goal by the marauding German. But the visitors continued to pile on the pressure and, just two minutes later, the home ‘keeper had to be down sharply to deny Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore at his near post.

Jacek Magiera’s side – who took up their place in the round of 32 by virtue of finishing an unlikely third in a UEFA Champions League group that had contained Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Sporting Lisbon despite having conceded a whopping 24 goals in the process, created only one real chance of note in the first half which fell to Bursaspor loanee, Tomas Necid, but the Czech forward – who spent a productive loan spell in the Eredivisie with PEC Zwolle while on the books of CSKA Moscow before making the move permanent in February of 2015 and moving to Turkey on a free transfer later that year, failed to get any real power behind his 39th minute volley which Ajax ‘keeper, Andre Onana held comfortably.

There was still time for the visitors to squander another effort before the interval with Kasper Dolberg this time the culprit – the Danish starlet ballooning his attempt high and wide of Malarz’s goal from the edge of the box after having been teed up by a perfectly placed square ball from Younes a minute before half time.

With the visitors having wasted a number of opportunities, the reigning Polish champions who currently sit four points off the pace behind Lechia Gdansk in the Ekstraklasa – which has only just resumed following a prolonged winter break, almost made Peter Bosz’s men pay on the hour mark when substitute, Michal Kucharczyk cut in from the right and squared the ball past the outstretched arm of Onana to present Miroslav Radovic with what appeared to be a simple tap-in until the returning Kenny Tete beat the Legia skipper to the ball to keep the visitors on level terms.

Having overcome the same opposition at the same stage of the same competition two seasons ago the visitors found Magiera’s men a more difficult not to crack than the Legia side the Lancers dumped out of the competition 4-0 on aggregate in 2014/15 but had one more opportunity to take a priceless lead into the second leg when, following a neat give and go between Lasse Schone and Ziyech, the Dane was denied at the near post by the legs of Malarz twelve minutes from time.

Coming into this encounter, Ajax coach, Bosz had made one enforced change from the eleven that had taken the field against Sparta Rotterdam at the weekend with Kenny Tete replacing Joel Veltman – who was omitted due to illness, and it ended up being an eventful evening for the 21-year-old who has been largely out of favour this term.

Having saved his side’s blushes on the hour, the Dutch international then collected a booking in the 71st minute before being somewhat harshly given his marching orders by referee, Borbalan six minutes from time after tugging back Legia’s Brazilian midfielder, Guiherme on half way.

Despite being a man up the hosts failed to make their advantage count – meaning that there will be all to play for in the second leg at the Amsterdam ArenA in a week’s time.

Man of the Match: Amin Younes


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German powerhouses too strong for PSV

Five time European champions, Bayern Munich eased past PSV Eindhoven – hitting the Dutch champions for four with Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben all on target for Carlo Ancelotti’s side at the Allianz Arena in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening reports Steven Davies.




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On a cold and wet night in Munich, PSV Eindhoven, whose sole European Cup triumph in 1988 had come on German soil – in Stuttgart, where they had overthrown Portuguese powerhouse, Benfica on penalties, endured a torrid opening – Thomas Muller dragging his finish wide of Dutch international ‘keeper, Jeroen Zoet’s left hand upright as early as the third minute following a rampaging run and pull back from Austrian full back, David Alaba.

The four-man PSV defence and right back, Joshua Brenet in particular, had no answer for the Bayern front three, nor the elusive Alaba who found himself unrestricted in the visitor’s area once again in the 11th minute but unable to keep his effort down after a penetrating run by Dutch international, Arjen Robben.

Despite coming into this encounter off the back of a five match dry spell in front of goal in all competitions, Robert Lewandowski tested Zoet’s reflexes on a number of occasions throughout the half and, following the Dutch international ‘keeper’s denial of the Polish marksman in the 13th minute, a quickly taken corner from Arjen Robben found Thomas Muller inexplicably unmarked at the near post – the German international beating a furious, Zoet at the second time of asking to put Carlo Ancelotti’s men into the ascendancy with only his second goal of the season in all competitions.

Alaba continued to terrorize the PSV backline and he would play a key role in the host’s second goal of the evening – the Austrian international’s deflected cross from the left finding the head of German international, Joshua Kimmich unmarked at the back post for the 21-year-old to double the host’s advantage and seemingly end the game as a meaningful contest, such had been the German champions’ dominance to that point of the match.

However, despite having not having had a single attempt on goal in the first 38 minutes of the contest, the ball suddenly ended up in the back of Bayern ‘keeper, Manuel Neuer’s net – Gaston Pereiro wrongly adjudged by Scottish referee, William Collum to have been offside when receiving the ball prior to beating the German international ‘keeper.

Yet, Phillip Cocu’s men weren’t to be denied and, just a minute later, Luciano Narsingh left the Bayern rear guard for dead having been sent streaking away from the host’s back line by an incisive pass from Pereiro before flashing a spectacular drive past Neuer into the top right hand corner of the net to reignite the game as a contest.

Both teams came into this encounter in indifferent form in their respective domestic competitions – reigning Dutch title holders, PSV lagging behind current Eredivisie pacesetters, Feyenoord by nine points following a disappointing draw at home to Heracles on Saturday evening, while, like their opponents, Bayern were also without a win in their last three matches in all competitions, although unlike their Dutch counterparts,  Carlo Ancelotti’s side remain atop the Bundesliga standings – two points ahead of both FC Koln and RB Leipzig despite having dropped points at home to Koln and away at Eintracht Frankfurt in their last two league outings.

Despite their faltering form in the Eredivisie and having taken just one point from a possible six thus far in group play in the UEFA Champions League, the visitors began the second stanza where they had ended the first – Uruguayan, Pereiro drawing a point blank save from Germany’s number one in the 52nd minute.

However, any momentum that the Dutch champions had built up early in the second half was brought to an abrupt halt just before the hour when former PSV player, Robben weaved his way through the Eindhoven backline and drew a save from Zoet whose parry fell invitingly onto the head of Lewandowski – the Polish international making no mistake with the goal at his mercy.

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With the resistance of the away side finally broken, the hosts, who came into the encounter with Phillip Cocu’s men off the back of a surprise loss in Spain to Atletico Madrid in their last UEFA Champions League fixture, continued to press – Zoet denying both Muller and then Robben before the Dutch maestro finally put the game to bed when he beat an onrushing Zoet to a lofted ball into the PSV box from the boot of Spanish international, Thiago Alcântara – sending a looping header over the Dutch international stopper and into the unguarded net to round off an incredible period of possession by the German champions that contained over thirty consecutive passes.

Realistically, with both Atletico and Bayern looking in imperious form in group play, it would appear that Phillip Cocu’s men must now focus on securing third place in the group and with it a ticket into the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League, with the visit of Rostov to the Philips Stadion on 6th December taking on extra significance.

Man of the Match: Arjen Robben    



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Magic from Dolberg enough to make Liege challenge disappear

A lone Kasper Dolberg strike in the 28th minute of their Group G encounter with Standard Liège was enough to see Ajax make it two wins from two in group play in the UEFA Europa League reports Steven Davies.

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Following an indifferent performance against Panathinaikos that nonetheless yielded all three points from a tricky trip to Greece, former four time European Champions, Ajax welcomed Belgian side Standard Liege to the Amsterdam ArenA on the back of a six game winning streak that has seen Peter Bosz’s charges reassert themselves into the title picture in the Eredivisie while also recording wins in both domestic and continental cup competitions.

Peter Bosz named a largely unchanged side from the weekend victory over PEC Zwolle –the inclusion of Serbian international, Nemanja Gudelj at the expense of Hakim Ziyech being the only change for the hosts – Chelsea loanee, Bertrand Traore continuing on the right with Kasper Dolberg preferred once again down the middle of the front three while Daley Sinkgraven was again deployed at left back.

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Recently appointed Standard Liege coach, Aleksandar Jankovic named the same starting eleven that had begun the 2016 Belgian Cup winners’ 3-0 win over Eupen on Sunday – a line-up that included a return for former Ajax midfielder, Eyong Enoh who spent six years in Amsterdam and was a part of two title winning sides under former coach, Frank de Boer while also lifting the KNVB Beker under Martin Jol in 2010.

In front of a sparse yet vocal crowd, it was the visitors who were out of the blocks the quickest – Benito Raman, high on confidence – having netted in each of his last three games in all competitions, flashing a shot wide of Andre Onana’s right hand upright with just two minutes on the clock while Mathieu Dossevi tested the Cameroon international’s handling four minutes later.

The hosts gradually began to find their feet in the match and it was Traore – looking far more comfortable in his wider role, who carved the host’s first clean cut opportunity in front of goal – cutting in from the right before sidestepping two defenders and testing the handling of Catania loanee, Jean-Francois Gillet in the Liege nets with a low drive with twelve minutes gone.

The man on loan from Chelsea continued to pull the strings for the Amsterdam giants – playing a neat slide rule pass for Amin Younes who then fed Davy Klaassen – the Dutch international drawing a point bank save from the Liege ‘keeper just past the quarter hour before Dolberg worked the Standard glovesman with a neat headed flick on from the resultant corner from Gudelj.

The hosts, who tasted success in the UEFA Cup – the previous guise of the UEFA Europa League, in 1992, continued to turn up the pressure as the game neared the half way point of the first half – Colombian centre half, Davinson Sanchez – who bagged a brace in the weekend victory over PEC Zwolle, dragging an attempt from the edge of the visitor’s area wide of the mark.

The pressure told a couple of minutes short of the half hour mark when Traore picked up the ball from Gudelj on half way before finding Dolberg, who evaded the attentions of Standard skipper, Adrien Trebel – whose wayward pass Gudelj had initially intercepted, before slotting the ball past Gillet for the 18-year-old, Dane’s sixth goal of the season to give the hosts a deserved lead.

The hosts should have extended their lead a minute before the half time break when Traore cut in from the right, finding Klaassen on the edge of the Standard area whose perfect one touch pass found goal scorer, Dolberg who attempted to return the favour as Gillet rushed out to narrow the Dane’s angle of opportunity –Klaassen being beaten to the punch on the line by Cameroonian defender, Collins Fai who cleared the danger to keep the visitors in the game.

Following a quiet opening to the second stanza, the visitors unexpectedly almost found themselves on level terms when a miscommunication between centre half, Nick Viergever and Onana sent the Cameroonian stopper scrambling – managing to stick out a leg to avoid a calamitous own goal twelve minutes after the resumption.

But the Ajax ‘keeper was off his line smartly in the 67th minute to deny Dossevi a goal scoring opportunity when, following a flick on from Algerian target man, Ishak Belfodil, the Togo international had found himself in acres of space at the back post.

The host’s awoke from their slumber as the game entered the final twenty minutes – Nemanja Gudelj sending a free kick from just outside the area inches wide of Gillet’s right hand post with eighteen minutes to play.

Three minutes later, substitute Mateo Cassierra broke free and teed up his captain who in turn laid the ball on for an onrushing Younes whose shot was deflected wide of Gillet’s left hand upright from just inside the area.

Despite time rapidly running out for the visitors, the game was by no means safe for de Godenzonen – just a minute later Standard substitute, Jean-Luc Dompe cut in from the left and burned off the attentions of Dutch international, Joel Veltman before seeing his goal-bound shot blocked by Sinkgraven

Then, with six minutes remaining, Isaac Mbenza picked up the ball on the edge of the Ajax area and bent a wicked curling effort onto Onana’s left hand upright with the home ‘keeper well beaten.

The game continued to seesaw from one end to the other when the hosts again threatened to make the game safe in the 89th minute – substitute, Jairo Riedewald threading an incisive ball through the centre of the visitor’s defence into the path of Cassierra but Gillet was quickly off his line to clear up the danger on the edge of his area.

Then, just seconds after the Colombian forward had fluffed an attempted volley from just outside the box, following a cushioned header from fellow substitute, Anwar El Ghazi, into the grateful hands of Gillet, the visitors threatened to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat – Dompe seeing his right-footed curling effort from just outside the area clawed out of the top left hand corner by Onana in the third minute of stoppage time.

However, try as they might, the visitors couldn’t force a breakthrough and, with six points from six in UEFA Europa League group play, Peter Bosz’s charges next face a trip to Spain to face Celta Vigo on 20th October.

Man of the Match: Bertrand Traore


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Man Utd sink as Vilhena vindicates Feyenoord to victory

A shock win for Gio van Bronckhorst’s Feyenoord over Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United on Thursday night gave the Rotterdammers the perfect start to this season’s European adventure reports Steven Davies.




A single strike from Feyenoord playmaker, Tonny Vilhena saw the Rotterdam giants record a memorable victory over a poor Manchester United side in Group A of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening.

Despite the fact that, due to previous issues regarding crowd trouble during their last UEFA Europa League campaign and in particular over the two legged knock-out tie with Roma in February 2015, Feyenoord were forced to reduce the capacity of their imposing home, employ considerably more stewards and erect a 10 metre high catch net around the playing surface, little could dampen the raucous atmosphere generated for the visit of one of the world’s biggest clubs to Rotterdam – evoking memories of Feyenoord’s glorious past when the continent’s biggest and best were annual visitors to De Kuip.

Despite their illustrious history, the UEFA Europa League (or the UEFA Cup as it was previously known) is one trophy Manchester United have never won – something their hosts have on two occasions, with their most recent triumph in the competition coming under Bert van Marwijk in 2002.

Yet, any thought of winning the competition for Jose Mourinho’s men was most definitely put on the back burner – the Manchester United coach opting to rest a slew of first choice players for the game in Rotterdam, having previously stated an intention of operating two separate teams in an effort to balance the rigors of domestic and continental competition during the first half of the campaign.

Being able to rotate a squad and yet field a side that included names such as Juan Mata, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford was a luxury that Feyenoord coach, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst couldn’t afford – the home side fielding ten of the eleven that dispatched ADO Den Haag at the weekend to maintain Feyenoord’s 100% start to the Eredivisie season as Terence Kongolo returned at the expense of Lucas Woudenberg.

By contrast, the visitors came into the tie off the back of a disappointing home defeat at the hands of their cross-city rivals and had a point to prove to their new manager – who won the competition as coach of Porto in 2003.

But it was the home side who came out of the blocks first – Steven Berghuis testing the handling of United ‘keeper, David de Gea from the edge of the area in the 11th minute before Tonny Vilhena attempted a speculator from similar range on the quarter hour. The visitors replied by troubling de Gea’s opposite number, Brad Jones with a tame Paul Pogba free kick a minute later.

Despite mounting pressure from the hosts, it was the visitors who carved out the best chance of the half when Matteo Darmian broke free down the left and squared for Anthony Martial who skewed a right footed effort from the edge of the area inches wide of Jones’ left hand post with 24 minutes on the clock.

A game of cat and mouse ensued as the second half began – both sides exchanging long range efforts that only served to trouble the ten foot high catch nets encircling the playing surface..

Any suggestion that Mourinho was content with the situation was dispelled when the United boss made a triple change just after the hour – introducing Ibrahimovic, Memphis and Young in the hope of taking all three points back to Manchester.

However, it was a Feyenoord substitute that would fashion the first effort to pose any real danger in the second stanza – Bilal Basacikoglu getting free down the right and firing a low drive that had de Gea scurrying to cover his left hand post with 73 minutes gone.

Having replaced Watford loanee, Steven Berghuis – who had lost the early spark that had driven the home side forward during the first period – the 21-year-old took it upon himself to reignite a contest whose embers had previously begun to flicker and fade.

With eleven minutes remaining, Basacikoglu again found time and space down the right and played in Nicolai Jorgensen who broke the United offside trap and squared for Vilhena who side-footed the ball past de Gea from just inside the area to give the Rotterdam giants a lead their first half play had merited.

Rocked by the goal, the visitors continued to huff and puff thereafter but their star-studded line up ultimately fashioned little to trouble Feyenoord’s Australian stopper, Jones – an Ibrahimovic free kick from just outside the area which was well held by the Feyenoord glovesman as the game entered added time being the best the men from Manchester could muster as Feyenoord added another chapter to their illustrious history in European club competition while in the process maintaining their 100% start to the season with a top of the table clash with PSV in Eindhoven next up for the league leaders on Sunday afternoon.

Man of the Match: Eric Botteghin



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Ajax’s great Danes saves a point against ten men Celtic






Ajax’s 500th game inside the Amsterdam ArenA did not go to plan this evening as Frank de Boer’s side were held to a 2-2 draw by Scottish champions Celtic writes Will Burns.

Celtic, who had failed to score in their last two European away games notched twice. Their boss Ronny Deila, who spent time at Ajax studying their tactics and training methods during his time as Strømsgodset boss, left Amsterdam with a sense of pride clinching an excellent 2-2 draw, ending the game with just ten men.

Frank de Boer picked a young side without experienced heads Ricardo van Rhijn and Lasse Schöne

Highly-rated Israeli midfielder Nir Bitton has a history with Ajax – the last time he played the Amsterdammers, he was shown the red card in last year’s Europa League clash. Tonight proved to be a better experience.

Within seven minutes Bitton put the Scottish champions ahead after an awful midfield mix up from Daley Sinkgraven and Jairo Riedewald. Kris Commons intelligently collected the ball and fed to Biton to place the ball comfortably past Jasper Cillessen.

The home side failed to get going in the first twenty minutes, the midfield failing to link up and the wingers being stopped in their tracks by Mikaël Lustig and Emilio Izaguirre however on 24 minutes the game was levelled.

It was a great team goal by Ajax and great finish from 25 yards out by Viktor Fischer to score for his second consecutive game. Lustig failed to stop the emerging Amin Younes, the German played into Davy Klaassen on the edge of the box and he played a cute back-heel into the path of the Dane who finished coolly past Craig Gordon, making it 1-1.

The goal gave De Godenzonen confidence however after failing to create any clear cut chances, Celtic were ahead again before half-time. Manager Ronny Delia defended his side in a pre-match interview after being accused at failing to deal with set-pieces in the last few matches; he stated “tonight, maybe we will score from a set-piece?”

Well he was not wrong. Commons hit a flat corner into the area and the unmarked Lustig nodded home. Dreadful defending by Ajax, which was disappointing after gaining a foothold in the match since notching the equaliser.

Celtic fans celebrated wildly during the break with an obvious hidden agenda as De Boer played alongside his twin brother Ronald for Celtic’s bitter rivals Glasgow Rangers in 2004, and the Hoops fans revelled in leading the game in particular.

The second half was a torrid affair with either keeper having nothing to do and after De Boer brought some changes into his side, Ajax’s fortunes changed as Celtic left-back Emilio Izaguirre was dismissed for two bookings.

Attacking options Arek Milik and Lasse Schöne were introduced as the Amsterdam crowd got more and more restless with twenty minutes to go, Ajax started to press Celtic with some impact.

With ten to go, the overall quiet Anwar El Ghazi whipped a wonderful pinpoint cross into Milik’s head but unfortunately for the Polish international his effort scraped the inside of the post and bounced out.

Next the chance we saw was the other substitute Schöne finding the levelling goal – from a set-piece. The Danish midfielder floated a free-kick into the area from the left and it missed everyone and ended up past Gordon in the net.

Again, Schöne was involved in the dying minutes as he Milik combined and the Pole nodded over when it was easier to score. It was a poor performance from De Boer’s men and his team selection may be criticised due to the lack of experience – that eventually turned the game around for them – a lucky draw.


AJAXCillessen – Tete, Veltman, Riedewald, Dijks – Sinkgraven (Serero 62), Gudelj, Fischer (Schöne 75) – El Ghazi, Klaassen, Younes (Milik 62).

GOALS: Fischer 25, Schöne 84.

BOOKINGS: Serero 89.

CELTIC: Gordon – Lustig (Ambrose 69), Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre – Brown, Bitton – Forrest (Blackett 75), Johansen, Commons (Janko 83) – Griffiths.

GOALS: Bitton 8, Lustig 42.

BOOKINGS: Izaguirre 56, Lustig 64, Johansen 68.

SENT OFF: Izaguirre 74.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Sparta Prague 3-1 PEC Zwolle






PEC Zwolle’s European dreams are over as Czech side Sparta Prague blew Ron Jans’ side away tonight in a 3-1 triumph writes Will Burns.

Sparta exploded out of the blocks and were ahead after just nine minutes with Ladislav Krejčí breaking past the Zwolle defence to slot past Diederik Boer in goal.

Zwolle attacked, searching for the equaliser and the all-important away goal but were hit on the break before half-time to virtually kill the tie off. Midfielder Bořek Dočkal finished a counter attack with a blast from outside the area, which cruelly deflected off Maikel van der Werff with Boer totally out of the reach.

Prague found a third just after the hour mark through Jakub Brabec before Zwolle grabbed a consolation through a Stef Nijland penalty kick, after Mustafa Saymak was fouled in the area by Radoslav Kováč.

The adventure is over for Zwolle, however they can be proud of reaching Europe just two seasons after promotion and with Ron Jans’ leadership they might be to qualify next year.


SPARTA PRAGUE: Bičík, Brabec, Kovac, Kadeřábek, Nhamoinesu, Matejovsky, Dockal, Mareček, Vacek (Konate 84), Krejci (Nespor 90+1), Lafata (Brezanik 90+1).

SUBS NOT USED: Stech, Svejdik, Hybs, Bednar.

GOALS: Krejci 10, Dockal 44, Brabec 62.

BOOKINGS: Matejovsky 32, Brabec 56, Nhamoinesu 57.

PEC ZWOLLE: Boer, Van Polen, Sainsbury, Van der Werff, Van Hintum, Rienstra, Saymak, Lukoki (Dekker 78), Drost, Thomas (Moro 70), Necid (Nijland 55).

SUBS NOT USED: De Jong, Ioannidis, Pereira, Lam.

GOALS: Nijland 83P.

BOOKINGS: Sainsbury 36.


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EUROPA LEAGUE: Feyenoord 4-3 Zoyra






Feyenoord win 5-4 on aggregate

Elvis is the KING of Rotterdam after a late Elvis Manu goal saved Feyenoord’s blushes and fired them into the Europa League group stages writes Ryan O’Grady.

Three lucky goals for Feyenoord followed by three defensive lapses that cost three goals and to round it all off Manu, the substitute, scored the winner in the 92nd minute. The fact that Feyenoord are through will cover up serious issues with their defensive performance tonight, but judging by Manu & Co’s reaction at the final whistle that’s something they’ll deal with that later because now is the time to celebrate their passage onto the group stages.

After a disappointing defeat at the weekend to Utrecht the pressure was on for Fred Rutten and he made two changes to the team, Nelom and Manu were replaced by Kongolo and Basaçikoglu respectively. Feyenoord started well with Schaken winning a free kick just to the right of the box after a foul by Ignjatijević. The Zorya defence dealt with the initial free kick but they could only clear it as far as Schaken on the edge of the box whose shot pinballed off different players before falling to te Vrede but his shot was well saved by Shevchenko. Then in the ninth minute Zorya had a chance of their own, after winning a free kick just outside the box, the ball was floated in and Segbefia got his head on it but it was blocked well by van Beek just in front of goal.

In the 13th minute Budkivskiy received the ball inside the D and turned van Beek before going down inside the box and the penalty was given, however the linesman immediately called over the referee and told him that Budkivskiy was pulling van Beek shirt and on replay he was shown to be correct and the penalty decision was rescinded with Budkivskiy lucky not to get booked for going down easily. Feyenoord replied with a goal from a free kick, it was delivered into the box and was dealt with once more by the Zorya defence but it again fell to a Feyenoord player, this time Vilhena, his shot was also deflected but it again fell to Te Vrede who this time made no mistake and smashed it home hard and low.

Almost straight from the kick off a cross was put in for te Vrede but it was just too high and skimmed the striker’s head. In the 22nd minute the Feyenoord defence fell asleep, the ball was put into the Feyenoord box from the right wing and both van Beek and Wilkshire went for the same ball and got in each other’s way allowing the ball to fall to Malinovskiy but he seemed to panic under pressure from Immers and hit the crossbar when he should’ve at least got it on target. This moment of hesitation was punished almost immediately when Vilhena crossed from deep and Kongolo rose up to meet the header but missed the target, however it fell to Schaken who bundled it in from close range. After the goal Feyenoord seemed to be settling down for half time which meant there wasn’t a lot happened after that only when Basaçikoglu broke clear before sending in a dreadful cross.

The second half started well for Feyenoord, only two minutes in Schaken sent in a cross that should have been easily cleared but Bilyi didn’t seem to know what to do with it, eventually stooping low and heading it into his own net. Straight from the restart the Zorya players sent the ball back to their keeper who was charged down by Schaken and Shevchenko’s clearance hit Schaken right in the face before just going over the crossbar.

After this near miss Feyenoord’s defence crumbled, first Basaçikoglu gave away a foul on the near touchline in the 56th minute and the free kick was converted by Malinovskiy who got the slightest of touches on it with a free diving header. Then in the 70th minute, following a relatively quiet period, Kongolo headed out a dangerous looking cross for a corner but the resulting corner was converted by Bilyi who was inexplicably unmarked inside the six-yard box.

The comeback was complete in the 78th minute when just before he received the ball Immers slipped allowing Malinovskiy to collect the ball and from around 35 yards out scored a screamer into the bottom right corner leaving Mulder with no chance, however you could argue that once Immers slipped the defence could’ve put more pressure on him, instead they backed off allowing him to score and send the ten Zorya fans that had bothered to turn up into ecstasy.

This forced Rutten to bring on two attackers in Manu and Achahbar, for Clasie and Mathijsen respectively. The Manu substitution paid off in the 92nd minute when he received the ball on the edge of the box before impressively spinning and pushing past three players and slotting the ball home to spark rapturous celebrations all around De Kuip including on the bench and in the Director’s box.


FEYENOORD: Mulder, Wilkshire, Van Beek, Mathijsen (Manu 84), Kongolo, Clasie (Achahbar 84), Immers, Vilhena, Schaken, Te Vrede, Basacikoglu (Nelom 78).

SUBS NOT USED: Hahn, Nelom, Steenvoorden, Karsdorp, Vormer, Manu, Achahbar.

GOALS: Te Vrede 18, Schaken 27, Bilyi 48OG, Manu 90+2.

BOOKINGS: Basacikoglu 55, Te Vrede 87, Manu 90+3.

ZOYRA: Sjevtsjenko, Kamenjoeka, Bilyi, Ignjatijevic (Pysko 72), Pyljavskji, Karavajev (Chaykovsky 79), Tsjaikovksy, Segbefia (Ljubenovic 66), Malynovskyj, Chomtsjenovsky, Boedkivskij.

SUBS NOT USED: Santini, Lipartia, Yarmash, Boroday.

GOALS: Malynovskyj 56 & 80, Bilyi 71.



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