Ajax 0-2 Brighton: The Seagulls claim a famous win in Amsterdam thanks to goals from Ansu Fati and Simon Adingra boosting Brighton’s hopes of qualifying to the next round
- After making a slow start to the Europa League, Brighton are poised to progress
- Ajax are the only team to play Brighton this season and not score a single goal
- DOMINIC KING: I don’t understand what football is anymore – It’s All Coming Up
Ajax may not be the Dutch masters they were but Brighton conquered them for the second time in a fortnight to record arguably the finest result in their history.
Ansu Fati led the way with a sparkling display, scoring the first and making the second for Simon Adingra to leave Roberto de Zerbi’s team with seven points and two games still to play in Group B.
After a slow start in the Europa League, they have a good chance of progress but this victory came at a cost with three more injuries, including captain Lewis Dunk and Pervis Estupinan, who broke down on his return from injury.
James Milner went off after only eight minutes. He appeared to jar an ankle as he stretched to make a block and limped off looking dejected, replaced by Billy Gilmour with Pascal Gross moving to left back where Milner had been deputising.
First-choice left back Estupinan was on bench after missing six games but De Zerbi did not want him to expose him to a long shift so the Ecuardorian came on in the 65th minute and was off again 12 minutes later.
Ansu Fati and Brighton’s Simon Adingra celebrate in the Johan Cruyff Arena
Former Tottenham winger Steven Bergwijn pictured on the night of Ajax’s defeat
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Dunk, who has been selected by England for Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia, pulled up with a groin problem near the end of the first half and did not come back out for the second.
Ajax 4231: Ramaj 6; Gaaei 5 (Sosa 57, 6), Rensch 6 (Mikautadze 78), Sutalo 6, Hato 5; Vos 5.5 (Tahirovic 72, ) Taylor 5 (Akpom 46, 6.5); Berghuis 6, Hlynsson 6 (Borges 57, 6), Bergwijn 6; Brobbey 7.
Subs: Pasveer, Setford, Salah-Eddine, Medic, Avila, Godts, Martha
Manager: John van’t Schip 6
Brighton 4231: Verbruggen 6.5; Milner (Gilmour 8, 7), Van Hecke 7.5, Dunk 7 (Julio 46, 6.5), Veltman 6.5; Dahoud 6 (Estupinan 65, (Baleba 77), Gross 6; Adingra 7.5, Fati 8 (Ferguson 65, 6), Mitoma 6; Pedro 7.5.
Subs: Steele, McGill, Webster, Lallana, Baleba, Buonanotte, Hinshelwood, Duffus
Goals: Fati 15, Adingra 53,
Bookings: Pedro, Van Hecke,
Manager: Roberto de Zerbi 7
Ref: Nikola Dabanovic (Montenegro) 6.5
Even so, Ajax could not find the net. They are the only team to play Brighton this season without scoring, and they have done so twice. At least they played with a greater sense of adventure than they showed in defeat at the Amex, two weeks ago.
Their early season crisis has eased a little since John van t’Schip took interim charge of the team and replenished confidence.
Teenager Kristian Hlynsson produced the first meaningful effort of the night, a shot from distance sent skipping across the turf and saved diving low to his left by Bart Verbruggen, Brighton’s Dutch goalkeeper, who made his international debut in this stadium against France, last month.
Van t’Schip’s team gifted their visitors the opener, however, when Silvano Vos telegraphed a pass in his own half and Adingra intercepted. Joao Pedro spun away to make the space and Fati dashed into it, collected Adingra’s pass and slid an accurate finish past goalkeeper Diant Ramaj.
It was his fourth Brighton goal, his third in the last five appearances and the Spain forward on loan from Barcelona is becoming influential in De Zerbi’s team.
Ajax dominated much of the possession until half time without creating chances. Brighton frustrated them and almost stretched their lead before the interval. Once again, Adringra and Fati linked up sweetly on the right. This time to create a chance for Adringa from an angle. Ramaj saved it with his left foot.
Roberto De Zerbi will be delighted with Brighton’s run of form in the Europa League so far
Ansu Fati celebrates after scoring the first goal of their game against Ajax in the 14th minute
The home crowd cheered Chuba Akpom into the fray but the Championship’s player of the year, signed from Middlesbrough, could do nothing as the four times European champions slipped further behind.
This time Fati was creator with a jinking run to drag the Ajax defence out of shape and a simple pass to Adingra, coming in from the right to clip a shot past Ramaj as the ‘keeper came sliding out.
Ajax rallied late but their night was summed up by Brian Brobbey, whose side-foot volley in the 73rd minute hit the inside of one post, rolled along the goal line, his the other post and spun out.
Brighton scrambled it to safety and survived a strong finish by the Dutch to complete a win they will remember for many years in Sussex by the sea.
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