The official website for European football

Unconvincing United stumble past Ajax

Published: Thursday 23 February 2012, 23.28CET
Manchester United FC 1-2 AFC Ajax (agg: 3-2)
The English champions' UEFA Europa League adventure continues with a last-16 meeting against Athletic Club, despite a second-leg defeat by Ajax.
by Simon Hart
from Old Trafford

This content is streamed in such a way that it is protected and available only in a Flash format. Your device seems not to be compatible with our Flash video player.

Published: Thursday 23 February 2012, 23.28CET

Unconvincing United stumble past Ajax

Manchester United FC 1-2 AFC Ajax (agg: 3-2)
The English champions' UEFA Europa League adventure continues with a last-16 meeting against Athletic Club, despite a second-leg defeat by Ajax.

Sir Alex Ferguson described the UEFA Europa League as "new territory" for his Manchester United FC team to conquer but they claimed their place in the last 16 only after a stumble. Leading 2-0 from the first leg, United lost 2-1 to AFC Ajax to scrape through as 3-2 aggregate winners to a round of 16 meeting with Spanish side Athletic Club.

United looked home and dry when Javier Hernández extended their aggregate advantage after six minutes but Aras Özbiliz equalised before the break and Toby Alderweireld's late header ensured an anxious final few minutes inside Old Trafford.

A contingent of over 3,000 Ajax fans were in good voice before kick-off, singing their trademark refrain from Bob Marley's Three Little Birds: "Don't worry about a thing." However, their team soon had reason to doubt that every little thing was going to be alright.

Although Kenneth Vermeer beat away Nani's shot inside the first minute, by the sixth minute United did have a goal. Ji-Sung Park, wearing the captain's armband, intercepted Jan Vertonghen's pass and Dimitar Berbatov fed Hernández, who stepped inside Alderweireld and clipped the ball past Vermeer.

After Nicolás Lodeiro had a goal ruled out for offside, Özbiliz gave Ajax a glimmer of hope with his first European goal eight minutes before the break. Phil Jones beat Siem de Jong to the ball in the box but cleared only as far as Özbiliz, whose fierce drive took a slight deflection off Jones en route to the bottom corner.

Frank de Boer's men began the second half seeking a second goal but Lodeiro shot over from Christian Eriksen's cutback, then David de Gea – in front of his watching predecessor, Edwin van der Sar – saved well from De Jong's header.

Sir Alex sent on Paul Scholes and pushed Jones forward to plug the gaps in United's midfield, and Nani struck the crossbar, but Ajax were not finished. Özbiliz lofted a free-kick to the far post and Alderweireld's header ensured they exit the competition with their heads held high.

Last updated: 27/11/12 11.37CET

Related information

Player profiles
Coach profiles
Team profiles

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000273/match=2007437/postmatch/report/index.html#unconvincing+united+stumble+past+ajax

UEFA.com features

Pick of the week: matchday one
  • Pick of the week: matchday one
  • What teams need to get through
  • Watch the five best acrobatic Champions League goals
  • Ones to watch in the group stage
  • Masterclass: Xavi on passing and control
  • Newcomers ready for Champions League debuts
  • Pick of the Week of Football
  • Berezovski and Frick join Europe's 40-somethings
  • Europe's all-time top international goalscorers
  • Introducing football in Gibraltar ...
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.