Ajax 0-0 Fenerbahçe
The Yellow Canaries put in a disciplined performance in Amsterdam to keep them in the qualifying places in UEFA Europa League Group A.
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- Goalless contest maintains Fenerbahçe's two-point lead over Ajax in Group A
- Molde's 2-1 win at Celtic means only one of these sides can now qualify for the round of 32
- Injuries to Anwar El Ghazi and Viktor Fischer weaken Ajax
- Vítor Pereira's Fenerbahçe set out their stall to stifle – and succeed
- Next games: Molde v Fenerbahçe, Celtic v Ajax (26 November)
Ajax and Fenerbahçe fought out a goalless draw which keeps the Turkish side in line to progress from UEFA Europa League Group A.
The visitors were stronger in the opening exchanges. Most of the danger came from the left flank, with Alper Potuk constantly testing Kenny Tete and Diego drifting in from the middle to lend support. Ajax's cause was not helped when Anwar El Ghazi went off on the half-hour after hurting his ankle.
With Fenerbahçe packing the midfield and closing space down all over the pitch, it was no surprise that Ajax only registered a single shot on target before the interval, Volkan Demirel blocking Viktor Fischer as he cut in from the right. The closest Vítor Pereira's men came to scoring was when Joël Veltman sliced an attempted clearance across his own goal early on.
Fischer joined El Ghazi on the sidelines after a collision with Simon Kjær early in the second period. The game continued to yield virtually no goalmouth action, so it was no surprise when the Yellow Canaries' matchday three hero Fernandão replaced Nani, who had a quiet evening. Hasan Ali Kaldırım had a good chance late on but headed tamely at Jasper Cillessen, while at the other end substitute Amin Younes shot at Volkan's legs. Otherwise both keepers had remarkably easy shifts.
Ten v ten
The tussle between the two No10s, Davy Klaassen and Diego, was fascinating to witness. It was great seeing these two talented playmakers using drag-backs, shimmies and feints to create space when up against each other. The Brazilian had the better of the first half, and was generally at the root of any Fenerbahçe attack. Klaassen shot over from a good position just inside the box after the restart but faded as the match went on. Ultimately neither man found a way of unlocking the opposition defence.
Closing down the space
Pereira has drilled his team to close down space very effectively in the middle of the park. As a result, Fenerbahçe are very difficult to break down. Throughout the contest, Ajax passes went astray simply because there was no team-mate free to give the ball to. This emphasis on stifling midfield meant the visitors often lacked a cutting edge up front. Nonetheless, this was an accomplished away display from a well-drilled outfit.