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Leonardo invents winner for Ajax

Published: Thursday 26 February 2009, 23.30CET
AFC Ajax 1-1 ACF Fiorentina (agg: 2-1)
Ajax forward Leonardo came off the bench to conjure the late equaliser which sent the Dutch outfit processing into the UEFA Cup's Round of 16.
Leonardo invents winner for Ajax
Leonardo (left) celebrates with Luis Suárez ©AFP

Match statistics

AjaxFiorentina

Goals scored1
 
1
Attempts on target6
 
7
Attempts off target4
 
6
Corners7
 
8
Offsides2
 
4
Fouls committed16
 
20
Yellow cards2
 
3
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

 
Published: Thursday 26 February 2009, 23.30CET

Leonardo invents winner for Ajax

AFC Ajax 1-1 ACF Fiorentina (agg: 2-1)
Ajax forward Leonardo came off the bench to conjure the late equaliser which sent the Dutch outfit processing into the UEFA Cup's Round of 16.

AFC Ajax substitute Leonardo came on to conjure an 88th-minute equaliser against ACF Fiorentina which sent the Dutch side through to a UEFA Cup Round of 16 meeting with Olympique de Marseille. Having taken a slender 1-0 lead into the game, Ajax trailed to Alberto Gilardino's second-half strike and were facing extra time and penalties before Leonardo rifled home the decisive goal.

Frey busy
Needing to score to level the tie, Fiorentina were first to threaten when Gilardino forced an early save from Kenneth Vermeer with a shot from the middle of the box. Ajax responded with Luis Suárez's strike from the right which Fiorentina keeper Sébastien Frey did well to parry. Frey was busy again when he kept out Jan Vertonghen's effort following a free-kick from Urby Emanuelson, who then fired wide from the rebound. It remained evenly-matched after the break and Fiorentina had the best chance of the game to that point when Alessandro Gamberini headed on to a post from Franco Semioli's corner in the 47th minute.

Final pressure
Frey then made another good stop from Suárez's long-range free-kick, before Fiorentina, running out of time, began raining shots on the Ajax goal. Mutu blazed over from inside the area and Vermeer saved well first from Marco Donadel's 20-metre attempt, then from Gilardino's header. The pressure finally paid off when Gilardino, a threat all night, collected Mutu's pass from the right and smashed home a shot from inside the box. He could have doubled his tally minutes later but nodded over the bar, shortly after Vertonghen had curled an Ajax free-kick wide. Both sides were desperate to find a winner in the closing stages and it was Ajax's evening as Leonardo unleashed his shot into the bottom-right corner two minutes from time.

Last updated: 27/02/09 12.33CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2009/matches/round=15286/match=304819/postmatch/report/index.html#leonardo+invents+winner+ajax

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