FC Timişoara stated their UEFA Europa League intent as they earned an impressive Group A draw against AFC Ajax in Amsterdam.
Home side frustrated
Despite enjoying significant territorial advantage throughout, Ajax created few clear chances. Siem de Jong came close with long-range efforts in each half but, in the end, Timişoara goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon had a relatively quiet night.
Ajax on top
He looked set for a much busier evening in the opening stages as Ajax immediately put their Romanian visitors on the back foot, Pantilimon parrying Luis Suárez's drive. Pantilimon was alert again ten minutes later, racing from his line to clear ahead of Croatian striker Dario Cvitanich. De Jong was next up to try, but his drive from the edge of the penalty area whistled just wide. The one-way traffic continued as a Suárez free-kick flew over after grazing the wall.
However, as the first half drew to a close Ajax's attacks were being mopped up without undue exertion by the Timişoara defence, with the towering Togolese centre-back Daré Nibombé particularly impressive. In fact it was the visitors who almost took the lead just before the break in a rare foray upfield, but Winston Parks failed to make contact with Alexandru Curtean's low centre.
Timişoara started brightest after the restart, Dorin Goga forcing a fine save from Maarten Stekelenburg with a stinging shot from distance. De Jong then tested Pantilimon again from outside the box. Ajax replaced Dario Cvitanich with another striker, Marko Pantelić, on the hour, and soon after Kennedy Bakircioglü took over from Miralem Sulejmani. Unfortunately for the home side this made little difference, and Timişoara held on for a creditable draw.