Manchester United won the Europe League after easily beating Ajax Amsterdam in Stockholm-final.
Written by Jonas Porsborg. May 24, 2017
Ajax Amsterdam and Manchester United faced each other in the Europe League final in Stockholm this Wednesday evening. Both teams have had a rather disappointing season, and Manchester United had this last chance to qualify for next season’s Champions League as they failed to reach the 4th place in the Premier League.
United started the match in an attacking way, and Ajax Amsterdam’s young defensive line would face a tough challenge throughout the night. Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba both had runs and shots towards the Ajax goal, and André Onana did his part to keep a clean sheet for a while.
Shortly afterwards Ajax seemed to wake up, and Bertrand Traore made himself place in the box, but Sergio Romero saved the ball easily. Just a minute after this did go wrong for Ajax, as Paul Pogba stole the ball from a throw-in, kicked the ball which deflected on Davinson Sanchez and got behind André Onana to 0-1 for Manchester United.
After the goal United packed a bit down defensively and made their efforts on counter-attacks, leaving the young Ajax team with much possession but couldn’t make their way through the strong defensive line. 0-1 was the result for the first half, and Manchester United could see a solid way to win this Europe League final and qualify for the next year’s Champions League.
Only minutes after referee Damir Skomina’s whistle Manchester United improved their lead even more. After poor defending by Ajax Chris Smalling provided a perfect corner-kick and Henrikh Mkhitaryan made it 0-2 with his head.
Ajax again didn’t seem to have much influence on the match, as the United defensive seemed to control the Ajax offensive.
The first substitute of the match was made by Ajax, with starlet Kasper Dolberg getting of the pitch for David Neres. Ajax surely had high hopes for Dolberg, but he couldn’t break through.
Brilliant play by United as they link passes together in the final third, Mata twists and turns and then Pogba chips into the middle. Fellaini heads at goal but it’s straight at the goalkeeper André Onana. Pogba has been playing brilliant tonight.
After 71 minutes Lasse Schöne had a freekick, and the Ajax fans and players had a slight hope, but the ball ended directly in the United-wall.
The young squad of Ajax Amsterdam had now faced an almost impossible task, and it seemed that they had no chance beating this Manchester United team, who at the same time seemed up to the task, and ready to secure this title. In many moments it looked like a regular cruise-control for the United-team. Only half chances from outside and almost breakthroughs were among Ajax’s chances.
After 85 minutes United sent Marcus Rashford off and in with Anthony Martial. A tactical substitute paying a small tribute to Martial who’s one of the high hopes of the United-squad. Only 1 minute after Martial got a free-run against the Ajax goal, but this time the Ajax defensive were ready and averted the trouble.
With only 1 minute of ordinary time Juan Mata was substituted with legend Wayne Rooney, a cadeau to a player, who has played a great part throughout the year for Manchester United.
As the referee blew his whistle for the last time, Manchester United could step up the throne as Champions of the Europe League, and even more important: As participants of next year’s group stage of the Champions League. Many of the United players talked about this particular game as “the match of our career”, and it would prove to be. Manchester United won the Europe League and are now ready for Champions League next year.