An added-time own goal from Julien Escudé has given Brøndby IF hope of overhauling AFC Ajax, but the Dutch club remain favourites to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage after scoring two away goals in Denmark.
Ajax coach Danny Blind made a number of changes to his usual lineup for this third qualifying round tie, handing starts to youngsters Ryan Babel, Urby Emanuelson and Markus Rosenberg while leaving internationals John Heitinga, Tomáš Galásek and Wesley Sneijder on the bench. The gamble looked to be paying off handsomely as the Dutch visitors led twice, only to concede at the last.
Blind's side carried a 2-1 advantage into added time, but with seconds remaining Escudé was caught out when Martin Retov's long-range effort rebounded on to him and found its way past the stranded Hans Vonk.
The four-times European champions had gone ahead in the 30th minute when Steven Pienaar showed good vision to pick out Rosenberg and the 22-year-old Swedish international - making his Ajax debut – placed the ball just inside the right-hand post.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Morten Skoubo capitalised on a defensive error to equalise within three minutes. Ajax were still on top and shortly before half-time Nigel de Jong played a neat one-two with Hatem Trabelsi to break through on goal but he could not find a finish.
Back in front
In the second half Pienaar continued to create, laying on a good chance for Nourdin Boukhari which the winger failed to convert. Instead, it was the 18-year-old Babel who put the Eredivisie team back in front in the 73rd minute, letting fly a powerful long-range shot that left Casper Ankergren with little chance.
Brøndby could have levelled matters in the 83rd minute, when Vonk struggled to hold on to an effort from Johan Elmander, but as it was they waited until the last possible moment to make their move.