Ajax 0 Manchester United 2
After finishing third in Champions League Group C, Manchester United were facing AFC Ajax at the Amsterdam Arena in the Europa League on the 16th of February 2012. United were one of the favourites to win the tournament and were expected to deal with the Dutchmen fairly comfortably. Manchester United were missing striker Dimitar Berbatov, defender Patrice Evra, and midfielder Ryan Giggs, while Ajax had to manage without winger Derk Boerrigter and playmaker Eyong Enoh. Both teams had their opportunities to score during the first period, but the two defences held firm until the sound of the half-time whistle. The Ajax players screamed for a penalty-kick in the 45th minute after a Rio Ferdinand challenge on Serbian international Miralem Sulejmani, only for Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi to wave the appeal away. Manchester United finally took the lead when the irrepressible Ashley Young somehow found his way through the home defence to score the opening goal of the evening in the 59th minute of action. The Amsterdammers pressed hard for an equalising goal, however, with a number of quality scoring chances for either side as the second period progressed.
Then, in the 75th minute of the encounter, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to bring on Antonio Valencia for goal scorer Young, but the speed merchant was injured just ten minutes after entering the field. Mexican international Javier Hernandez eventually supplied the coup de grace during the closing stages, though, as the marksman tucked the ball beneath onrushing Ajax goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer to make the final score 2-0 in favour of Manchester United. To sum it all up, Frank de Boer´s boys never really got going in this match with Ferguson’s European awayday specialists having long spells in which they could easily have scored even more goals. Ajax Team: Kenneth Vermeer, Toby Alderweireld, Dico Koppers, Vurnon Anita, Jan Vertonghen, Ismael Aissati, Siem de Jong, Christian Eriksen, Miralem Sulejmani, Aras Ozbiliz, Dmitry Bulykin. Substitutes: Nicolai Boilesen, Ricardo Van Rhijn, Daley Blind, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jody Lukoki, Thulani Serero, Jasper Cillessen. Manchester United Team: David de Gea, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Fabio da Silva, Luis Nani, Tom Cleverley, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez. Substitutes: Ji-Sung Park, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Paul Pogba, Paul Scholes, Danny Welbeck, Ben Amos.
Ashley Young Quickfacts
After joining Manchester United from Aston Villa at the start of the 2011-12 season, Ashley Young made his Champions League debut against FC Basel at Old Trafford on the 27th of September 2011. With United 3-2 down against the Swiss, Young scored in the last minute to hand the hosts a 3-3 draw.