Feb 172012

This is a guest post from our @onlyYOUNGTalive

One of the top games of the Europa League last 32 sees Ajax host Manchester United on Thursday. The fixture is good news for the tournament but not especially great for the clubs involved, with both having been knocked out of the Champions League in the group stages. It required seven goals from Olympqiue Lyonnais in Zagreb for Ajax to be edged out and an outstanding performance from Basel to knock Man utd out of champions league. With Frank de Boer’s men in, Manchester United defeated Ajax 2-0 on Thursday night courtesy of strikes from Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez, to put themselves in a strong position to progress to the next round of the Europa League.

The first half failed to produce much chances with Man Utd enjoying possession and Ajax having chances but failed to take them. The Frank de Boer’s men had the best chance of the first half which came in the form of a cracking effort by midfielder Siem de Jong. The Dutchman picked up the ball outside the box and released a curved right-footed effort, which David de Gea did well to palm away. The Red Devils started the second half well and were attacking more with venom before they found the breakthrough in the 59th minute, after the Ajax defence failed to deal with a dangerous delivery into the box.

The ball eventually fell to Young, who created space for himself inside the box and fired home through the legs of Vermeer. Play continued with Ajax trying to equalize but lacked the venom upfront. Instead, it was Manchester United who found another breakthrough, as substitute Antonio Valencia found space for Wayne Rooney to surge into.

The Englishman linked up neatly with Hernandez, who somewhat fortunately slotted the ball under Vermeer. The Dutch goalkeeper got a solid touch on the ball with his body, but the deflection could not parry the shot off target. The result leaves Manchester United in the driving seat to progress, while Ajax will have to produce a remarkable comeback to reach the last 16.

The Amsterdam outfit will return to domestic duty before the second leg of the tie, with the reigning Dutch champions welcoming NEC to the Amsterdam Arena on Sunday. Manchester United do not travel to Norwich until February 26th, three days after the return fixture at Old Trafford.

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