Injury-stricken AFC Ajax registered their first UEFA Cup Group F victory at the second attempt as Luis Suárez's effort proved decisive against MŠK Žilina.
Back in contention
The Uruguayan forward scored the only goal after 41 minutes as Marco van Basten's side managed to win despite having eight senior players absent through injury. They are now back in Group F contention, having lost their opening fixture 2-1 at Aston Villa FC, while Slovakian challengers Žilina are in trouble after back-to-back defeats.
Suspended for the Amsterdam club's 2-0 weekend triumph against fellow UEFA Cup contenders FC Twente, Suárez quickly made up for lost time, testing Dušan Perniš with a shot from distance which the Žilina keeper had to push wide. Siem De Jong and Rasmus Lindgren then got in on the act, yet the visiting custodian proved equal to their strikes from the edge of the box.
Lindgren squandered a good chance midway through the first half, shooting over from ten metres after being set up by Gregory van der Wiel, while Žilina's best attempt came from Mário Pecalka, with Thomas Vermaelen blocking his right-footed drive. Klaas Jan Huntelaar also posed a threat, with his header from ten metres compelling Perniš to make another intervention.
The game was decided four minutes before the break, as Suárez finished from close range after collecting De Jong's ball in from the left channel. However, Žilina did not give up their six-match unbeaten run away from home in Europe without a fight, as Robert Jež, Adauto Da Silva and Pecalka all troubled keeper Kenneth Vermeer after the interval. Nonetheless, Ajax ended the contest in the ascendant, with Vermaelen, Lindgren and Urby Emanuelson going close before Suárez rattled the crossbar.