From The Archives: Europa League Final Special

From the Archives

Ahead of tonight’s final, we take a look at the last time United faced Ajax. It was back in 2012 under Sir Alex in the Europa League Round of 32. We take a look at the first leg here.

United travelled to Ajax to face the latter in their first ever Europa League match. The first half was a disappointing affair as United could not build up any rhythm and played disjointed football. But things improved in the second half.

Phil Jones had the chance to open the scoring five minutes into the second half but a last ditch Vertonghen deflection kept him from the scoresheet. Moments later, Hernandez was denied by Ajax keeper Kenneth Vermeer. Then, Ashley Young provided United the breakthrough they needed. The goal deflated Ajax. Nani had another shot blocked and United pressed to double their advantage. The second goal came after Valencia won possession in the middle of the park. It allowed Rooney and Chicharito to combine and the latter’s goal spun around the keeper and into the back of the net. De Gea made a good save 10 minutes from time and ensured that United head back home with a deserving 2-0 advantage.

The second leg started with some confusion as to who was United’s captain, it seemed as though Phil Jones was to become United’s youngest Captain but eventually it was Park Ji-Sung who emerged with the armband.

Despite this mess, United got off to the best possible start with Hernandez scoring a delightful goal inside six minutes. With the home side leading 3-0 on aggregate, you would think the tie was over but it was anything but.

United had many chances to increase their lead but spurned them all and slowly let Ajax into the game. De Gea had to make a save to keep out Aras Ozbiliz just after the mid-way point of the first period. But the Spaniard could do nothing as the forward slammed home the equalizer from the edge of the box just before the break. De Gea made another save de Jong but could not prevent Toby Alderweirld from nodding home just after Nani had crashed the ball into the bar. Ajax did not get close to scoring again but it was a nervy end to a match at Old Trafford that could have been so easily handled.

FUN FACT

The referee of the second leg at Old Trafford was Damir Skomina, the same man who is in charge of the Final tonight at Stockholm.