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Slick Villa hold off Ajax challenge

Published: Friday 24 October 2008, 0.57CET
Aston Villa FC 2-1 AFC Ajax
The hosts marked their UEFA Cup group-stage debut in style as goals from Martin Laursen and Gareth Barry earned victory against the Dutch visitors.
Slick Villa hold off Ajax challenge
Gareth Barry (centre) takes the acclaim from Ashley Young (right) ©Getty Images

Match statistics

Aston VillaAjax

Goals scored2
 
1
Attempts on target7
 
1
Attempts off target3
 
4
Corners8
 
6
Offsides3
 
4
Fouls committed11
 
8
Yellow cards2
 
0
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

SSI Err
 
Published: Friday 24 October 2008, 0.57CET

Slick Villa hold off Ajax challenge

Aston Villa FC 2-1 AFC Ajax
The hosts marked their UEFA Cup group-stage debut in style as goals from Martin Laursen and Gareth Barry earned victory against the Dutch visitors.

Aston Villa FC marked their first appearance in the UEFA Cup group stage with a victory as Martin O'Neill's team saw off AFC Ajax in this meeting of two former European champions.

Early goals
After Martin Laursen and Thomas Vermaelen had exchanged carbon-copy headers, Gareth Barry struck what proved the decisive goal on the cusp of half-time. Attacking until then, Villa dropped off in the second period, allowing Ajax to come on to them, but the Dutch side had no answer as the hosts claimed the Group F spoils.

Rapid start
The Premier League team were shorn of John Carew through illness, but if they were missing their attacking linchpin they did not show it as Laursen broke the deadlock on eight minutes, the Villa captain getting in front of keeper Kenneth Vermeer to head in Ashley Young's left-wing corner. The pair combined again soon after as a dominant Villa drove forward, the Ajax back line struggling to defend set-pieces, and it was not until 20 minutes in that Rasmus Lindgren finally mustered the visitors' first effort on goal from 35 metres.

Vermaelen header
With the same player having scored only six goals in more than 100 Eredivisie appearances, it was perhaps little surprise that Lindgren's attempt went high and wide but, two minutes later, Ajax were level. Vermaelen rose unmarked to power in Urby Emanuelson's corner and the lively Luis Suárez almost completed an unlikely turnaround from yet another set-piece before Villa settled again. Ashley Young dragged wide when well-placed but quickly made amends, chalking up his second assist of the night as he teed up Barry to sweep in from the edge of the box.

Second-half lull
The noise levels at Villa Park increased and almost went up another notch after the interval when Vermeer denied Nicky Shorey and Laursen in quick succession. That was as lively as it got, though, as the English side backed off, Emanuelson going close when he forced Brad Friedel into a scrambling save 12 minutes from time, though Villa celebrations were muted by the sight of Gabriel Agbonlahor being carried off on a stretcher with a knee injury late on.

Last updated: 24/10/08 11.13CET

Related information

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http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2009/matches/round=15285/match=304178/postmatch/report/index.html#slick+villa+hold+ajax+challenge

Lineups

aston villa

Aston Villa

ajax

Ajax

1
FriedelBrad Friedel (GK)
12
VermeerKenneth Vermeer (GK)
2
YoungLuke Young
2
SilvaBruno Silva
24
CuéllarCarlos Cuéllar
Yellow Card75
3
OleguerOleguer
Substitution78
5
LaursenMartin Laursen (C)
Goal8
4
VermaelenThomas Vermaelen
Goal22
21
ShoreyNicky Shorey
8
EmanuelsonUrby Emanuelson
20
Reo-CokerNigel Reo-Coker
Substitution81
6
LindgrenRasmus Lindgren
19
St.PetrovStiliyan Petrov
26
SarpongJeffrey Sarpong
Substitution55
6
BarryGareth Barry
Goal45
5
VertonghenJan Vertonghen
8
MilnerJames Milner
16
SuárezLuis Suárez
Substitution60
11
AgbonlahorGabriel Agbonlahor
Substitution90+4
9
HuntelaarKlaas-Jan Huntelaar (C)
7
YoungAshley Young
18
GabriGabri

Substitutes

22
GuzanBrad Guzan (GK)
31
VonkHans Vonk (GK)
4
SidwellSteve Sidwell
15
Van der WielGregory van der Wiel
Substitution78
9
HarewoodMarlon Harewood
20
CvitanichDario Cvitanich
Substitution55
15
DaviesCurtis Davies
Substitution90+4
23
LeonardoLeonardo
Substitution60
16
KnightZat Knight
25
SnoEvander Sno
17
SalifouMoustapha Salifou
28
AnitaVurnon Anita
26
GardnerCraig Gardner
Substitution81
Yellow Card85
37
SchilderRobbert Schilder

Coach

Martin O'Neill (NIR) Marco van Basten (NED)

Referee

Thomas Einwaller (AUT)

Assistant referees

Armin Eder (AUT), Andreas Heiss (AUT)

Fourth official

Dietmar Drabek (AUT)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
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