The official website for European football

Ajax winded by Spartak sucker punch

Published: Thursday 10 March 2011, 22.55CET
AFC Ajax 0-1 FC Spartak Moskva
The hosts were made to pay for a catalogue of missed chances as Alex's second-half strike earned Spartak a precious first-leg advantage.
by John Atkin
from Amsterdam ArenA
Published: Thursday 10 March 2011, 22.55CET

Ajax winded by Spartak sucker punch

AFC Ajax 0-1 FC Spartak Moskva
The hosts were made to pay for a catalogue of missed chances as Alex's second-half strike earned Spartak a precious first-leg advantage.

A clinical second-half hit from Alex on a night of AFC Ajax misses earned FC Spartak Moskva a valuable first-leg advantage in this UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie.

The Russian visitors stuttered and spluttered throughout in the face of almost constant Ajax pressure. Yet with Siem de Jong in particular guilty of a host of spurned chances, Alex's opportunistic 57th-minute effort secured a lead to take into next Thursday's return – ending the Dutch side's eight-match winning home run in the process.

Ajax had been given a pep talk from former striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar before kick-off and had De Jong displayed a little more composure in the opening 60 seconds, the FC Schalke 04 forward's future as a motivational speaker could have been assured. De Jong did well to cushion Daley Blind's pass and turn his marker, but snatched at his shot.

It was a sign of things to come. Spartak are still four days away from the start of their Premier-Liga campaign and looked rusty for it. Their grinding through the gears was a marked contrast to the home team's slick transitions, with Vurnon Anita cutting off the supply line to the visiting strikers and feeding his own hungry team-mates.

Lorenzo Ebecilio, Demy de Zeeuw and De Jong all worked goalkeeper Andriy Dykan, yet for all their intent and willing Ajax's execution was lacking. There was no improvement after half-time either, as the unmarked De Zeeuw nodded Ebecilio's cross straight at Dykan when it seemed easier to score.

Within three minutes Alex had delivered the sucker punch, making light work of a couple of half-hearted challenges on the edge of the box and spearing a shot across goal and into the bottom corner. Ajax responded well, ratcheting up the pressure but also the misses – most glaringly when De Jong made a hash of his close-range header, sending it back across goal. Huntelaar may need to have a few more words.

Last updated: 26/09/14 6.34CET

Related information

Player profiles
Team profiles

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2011/matches/round=2000130/match=2003805/postmatch/report/index.html#ajax+winded+spartak+sucker+punch

UEFA.com features

The famous UEFA Youth League coaches
  • The famous UEFA Youth League coaches
  • Players who shone for both Inter and Milan
  • No time for losers: Europe's unbeaten league clubs
  • Masterclass: Petr Čech's goalkeeping guide
  • Ten things you never knew about Dinamo Moskva
  • Germany v Spain: their EURO meetings
  • Pick of the Week of Football
  • European Championship's all-time top scorers
  • The national team coaches who kept coming back
  • Dortmund find form with Kramer's help
1 of 10
 
  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA logo and all marks related to UEFA competitions, are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.