Rosenborg BK secured a valuable point from a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the Amsterdam ArenA against ten-man AFC Ajax in their UEFA Champions League Group D encounter tonight.
A penalty five minutes from time gave Rosenborg a draw they never looked like obtaining in a game the home side dominated from the opening stages. Dagfinn Enerly calmly stroked the spot-kick beyond Ajax goakeeper Henk Timmer after Jelle Van Damme had handled Frode Johnsen's shot on the line.
Boukhari goes close
Although the defender was dismissed, Ajax still had an opportunity to add to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's 41st-minute opener in the closing stages when the impressive Nourdin Boukhari saw two stunning shots finish just wide of the mark.
Invited to attack
Ajax were invited to attack from the first whistle and it was not long before home strikers Ibrahimovic and Boukhari were combining to cut open the Rosenborg defence. Their best moves came down the left and on nine minutes the ball found its way through to Ibrahimovic in the area, but despite turning sharply the Swedish international hit his shot too close to Árni Gautur Arason in the Rosenborg goal. A minute later Boukhari broke free of his marker but somehow Ibrahimovic failed to connect from five metres following a low cross.
Rosenborg were pinned back deep in their own half and their first effort on 16 minutes produced little threat as striker Frode Johnsen struck a tame shot which rolled past the under-employed Henk Timmer's post.
At the other end the ball was twice played invitingly into the area only to evade the incoming Ajax forwards. It was then something of a surprise when Rosenborg squandered the best chance yet on 24 minutes. Harald Brattbakk found himself unmarked six metres out but the striker twisted his header wide of the goal.
The let-off did little to hinder Ajax's forward progress and just after the half-hour mark two claims for handball in the Rosenborg area were turned away. Just when the first period looked like ending in stalemate, however, Ibrahimovic finally broke the deadlock on 41 minutes, tapping in from two metres following a low Hatem Trabelsi cross.
The pattern of play changed little in the early stages of the second half, but Rosenborg started to exert some pressure in midfield and created enough panic in the Amsterdam side's defence to suggest that one goal would not be enough to gain maximum points.
The tireless running of the skilful Enerly began to create gaps through the centre of the pitch and only a timely tackle by Cristian Chivu ended the little midfield player's progress on goal in the 58th minute. Brattbakk then saw a volley just clear the crossbar on 63 minutes and moments later defender Christer Basma headed just wide.
The home side were now reduced to counterattacks and were thankful to Timmer, who on 80 minutes made a fantastic save from a Karadas glancing header. As the crowd grew restless in the final stages Rosenborg pushed forward and Van Damme's intervention handed the Norwegian side a Group D lifeline.