Ajax also lost its first match without the departed Maurice Steijn. Under interim coach Hedwiges Maduro, the Amsterdam team suffered a 2-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion in the Europa League in England.
It was the first European victory ever for the English team of regular customers Joël Veltman and Jan Paul van Hecke.
Because Marseille won against AEK Athens earlier in the evening, the Amsterdam team is now last in group B with two points from three games. Marseille is the leader with five points, AEK and Brighton both have four points.
Brighton had the first opportunity, Kaoru Mitoma put back in the seventh minute after a nice move, but João Pedro did not have his sights set and shot far wide.
The second chance for the home team was for James Milner after twenty minutes, but the 37-year-old midfielder shot weakly and goalkeeper Diant Ramaj was able to easily collect the ball. Milner got the ball because Carlos Forbs suddenly played it into his feet.
For Ajax it was mainly a matter of holding back, which Maduro’s team did by collapsing far. After 25 minutes, Ajax made a dangerous breakthrough for the first time, but Brian Brobbey was not reached by Steven Berghuis. In the counterattack, Jorrel Hato gave Pedro a firm push, but the English did not get a penalty.
Pedro and toch
Brighton continued to get chances, for example Simon Adingra was allowed to take a shot on the edge of the penalty area after 27 minutes, but it went over. The biggest chance came after almost 38 minutes. João Pedro appeared for Ramaj, but the keeper turned away the Brazilian striker’s effort.
Shortly before half time the Brazilian scored. Lewis Dunk delivered a deep ball straight through the axis of the field to Mitoma, who turned in and shot. Ramaj was unable to stop this shot sufficiently and João Pedro was quick to score his fourth goal of this Europa League season: 1-0.
In the second half, Ajax started a bit more offensively than before halftime, but it was Brighton that scored. Adringa was able to ascend through the axis of the field and served Ansu Fati with a clever ball, who simply pushed the ball into the far corner: 2-0.
A minute later, the same Fati shot just wide and thus kept Ajax in the match. In the attack that followed, Steven Berghuis shot against the post after a good action. It was the biggest chance for Maduro’s team.
After that moment the pace disappeared from the match. Brighton kept the ball in the team and were waiting for a third goal. Facundo Buonanotte was close when Ramaj came far out of his goal and lost the ball. Mitoma intercepted, but suddenly did not dare to attempt. He gave his young Argentinian teammate the opportunity, but he ran into the goalkeeper who had now sprinted back.
This weekend another tough job awaits Ajax: the Premier League top match against leader PSV.
The post first appeared on nos.nl