AJ Auxerre have their first points on the board in UEFA Champions League Group G after substitute Steeven Langil struck late on to defeat AFC Ajax.
Beaten in each of their first three outings, Auxerre are now just two points behind second-placed AC Milan – their visitors on 23 November – with Ajax midway between both in third. It was the visitors who showed the brighter early touches, but lively competition newcomer Frédéric Sammaritano put the Ligue 1 side ahead with a ninth-minute deflected effort and his team-mate Langil pounced with four minutes remaining after Toby Alderweireld had pulled Martin Jol's men level.
A quiet opening looked primed to settle into a pattern of Ajax dominance as soon as the likes of Mounir El Hamdaoui and Luis Suárez began finding time on the ball. That impression became even more alluring when Urby Emanuelson rifled narrowly over from the left, but it was rapidly banished by Sammaritano as the diminutive forward found the net via Jan Vertonghen, Julien Quercia having chested down a Dariusz Dudka ball on the edge of the area.
Demy de Zeeuw nearly responded immediately with a sliding volley that sailed too high, but, leading for the first time in this year's group stage, Auxerre were hungry for more goals and threatened twice through Valter Birsa, the Slovenian international heading wide and scuffing to the left of the target. Nobody was enjoying himself more than Sammaritano, though, and the energetic goalscorer flayed a loose ball past a post, before Suárez went even closer at the other end after bamboozling Dudka.
If that chance warned Auxerre not to get too comfortable, they maintained their dominance when Birsa headed a Benoît Pedretti free-kick straight at Maarten Stekelenburg. Right-back Cédric Hengbart then christened the second period with a dipping volley taken comfortably by the Ajax No1, but, having introduced Siem de Jong for Eyong Enoh, the Eredivisie outfit gradually set about building pressure. Suárez was becoming a particular thorn in Auxerre's side and, after heading against the crossbar, he prodded wide with Hengbart on the floor in his wake.
It was centre-back Alderweireld who nonetheless levelled the scores, nodding beyond Olivier Sorin from a Suárez cross. That merely brought Auxerre out of their shells again, however, and Langil instantly tested Stekelenburg on the break. Set free by fellow substitute Kamel Chafni moments later, this time Langil rolled the ball under the Dutch international.
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