Kennedy Bakircioglü scored the only goal on the hour mark as AFC Ajax won 1-0 in Italy to seize the initiative in their Round of 32 tie against ACF Fiorentina.
It had been one-way traffic for much of the night at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, but Bakircioglü's strike against the run of play showed the home team the way to goal. The Viola were unable to respond and missed a hatful of chances to leave themselves with it all to do in Amsterdam next week as they look to better last season's run to the semi-finals.
Fiorentina forwards Adrian Mutu and Alberto Gilardino combined numerous times to carve open the Ajax defence, but the Serie A side could not find a finish. Riccardo Montolivo got the better of Maarten Stekelenburg in the 17th minute but having rounded the last line of the Ajax defence, he lifted his shot over the crossbar from a tight angle.
Mutu should have given a dominant Fiorentina the lead in the 29th minute, only to shoot weakly at Stekelenburg with the whole goal to aim at after being picked out by Franco Semioli. Ajax got their first sight of goal five minutes before the interval from a Luis Suárez shot and Sébastien Frey had to be alert to punch the curling effort away.
The visitors then took a shock lead on the hour mark when the home defence were caught napping. They failed to clear from Suárez's cross and the ball fell for Bakircioglü to drill an unstoppable shot against the underside of the crossbar and over the line from the edge of the penalty area. Fiorentina searched desperately for an equaliser with Gilardino and Zdravko Kuzmanović missing the best chances when they only had Stekelenburg to beat.