Manchester United outclass Ajax at Europa League

Manchester United took a huge step towards the pre-quarterfinals of the Europa League football by beating Ajax 2-0 here Thursday.

The English giants, just like Ajax, were ousted from the Champions League and had not brought all its stars to the Netherlands for the first leg of the round of 32 match. Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov and Patrice Evra were absent, Xinhua reports.

The first half was reasonably balanced with opportunities for both teams. Ajax were close with a long distance shot by Siem de Jong, but goalkeeper David De Gea denied it. On the other side Nani wasted a good opportunity.

At the stroke of half time, Ajax hoped for a penalty when Miralem Sulejmani was brought down by Rio Ferdinand at the edge of the penalty box. Referee Gianluca Rocchi did not flinch and gave the half time signal.

Manchester United was by far the better side in the second half and took the lead in the 59th minute. Ashley Young took advantage of disorder in the Amsterdam backline.

In the 85th minute, the Mancunians doubled the score with a fast counterattack, finished by Javier Hernandez after a Wayne Rooney cross.

United lost substitute Antonio Valencia in the final minutes due to  a hamstring injury. He will be out for four weeks.

"The first half was disappointing," United coach Sir Alex Ferguson reacted afterwards. "We did not have enough speed in the game and Ajax pressed the ball very well. In the second we had to wake up and deserved to win."

His Ajax colleague Frank de Boer had to admit it was a deserved victory for the opponent.

"For a good result, we needed everyone at 100 percent and they had to have a bad day, considering the age and quality difference. That was not the case."

De Boer realised the return next week in Manchester will be a formality. "We will aim for a 3-0 win. No, I am joking, that is not realistic. We will go there to learn."

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