United 1 Ajax 2 (Europa League)
That wasn`t supposed to have been on the agenda was it?
There was I, only yesterday, championing our superb home record in Europe, and along come Ajax and become the first ever Dutch side to win at Old Trafford.
Thankfully, we`re through to the next round, but only by the skin of our teeth.
At an Old Trafford, where the Ajax support seemed to be making all the noise, United got off to a great start when Javier Hernandez, with only six minutes on the clock, finished off a sweeping move with a clinical finish.
At that point you`d have bet serious cash that united, although missing the influential Rooney, would make it a night to remember with an avalanche of goals.
But it wasn`t to be, the Dutch side slowly got the better of things and with thirty-seven minutes on the clock, were back on level terms, on the night, when Ozbiliz netted.
After the break, Ajax continued to push forward looking to drag themselves back into the match but didn`t get the winner, on the night, until three minutes form the end of normal time when Alderweld netted.
The final few minutes were frenetic but United survived and, on reflection, a brilliant save from David De Gea, on fifty-seven minutes, from Siem de Jong, proved to be a deciding factor in the tie.
Following the defeat, Sir Alex Ferguson was man enough to admit that h eplaye dhi spart in the result, commenting,
"It was a very nervy and disappointing. I`ve got to accept responsibility myself. I played so many young players in the back four and it was a big ask."
"It was a problem in terms of the back four`s experience. For a European game it was too much of a risk."
With a back-four of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Rafael and Fabio, he was perhaps correct in his conclusions.
But, nevertheless, a place in the next round beckons, with a tie against Athletico Bilbao, a tie that prompted Sir Alex to conclude,
"We`ll need a string squad if we`re going to combine Thursday / Sunday all the way to the final."
On the evidence of last night, I`ll not be arguing with that.
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