Ajax was once again forced to settle for a tie in their second UEFA Europa League group match. After a shower of opportunities in the first half, Frank de Boer’s team got stuck at 1-1 against Molde. Because Celtic – Fenerbahçe also ended in a tie, there was not much change in group A.
Even before kick-off, Ajax experienced a special moment. The players had walked from the hotel to the stadium. Naturally they were escorted by police and stewards, but they made a nice vision like this, on their way to their first away match of the Europa League group A match. This was undoubtedly a difficult walk for Andre Onana, John Heitinga and Nick Viergever, as they knew that they would be watching the game from the stands.
The squad was basically the same as it had been last Saturday against FC Groningen. De Boer had also rewarded Viktor Fischer with a starting spot after his great substitution against FC Groningen. This came at the expense of Amin Younes. Fischer, in return, rewarded this faith in him. Almost all of the offensive attacks were initiated by the technically gifted Dane, who tested the keeper in the first minute with a well-placed curve ball.
But the first goal found its way behind Jasper Cillessen after about seven minutes of play. Whereas Ajax has been looking solid in the competition, the team has cashed in too many goals against in European competition. After a bad pass by Riedewald, Etzaz Hussain was launched on the right side. The lightning quick winger then passed sharply and Eirik Hestad ticked the ball in easily, 1-0.
Ajax wasn’t put off by this early deficit, as it increased its pace, and Riechedly Bazoer sent a shot onto the post. Seven minutes later, the team had drawn even. Viktor Fischer sent a hard shot onto the goal and, via a Molde player, the ball disappeared into the goal’s far corner, out of Horvath’s reach.
Seven good opportunities
Ajax had seven good opportunities in the first half, but didn’t convert any of them. Molde was threatening a few times, but the Amsterdam defense was on its guard each time.
The opportunities were scarcer in the second half, but not less impressive. Seven minutes after Cillessen had grabbed a shot from former Feyenoord player Singh, Ajax got its biggest chance. A good cross-pass from Riedewald reached Tete. The right back passed it on and Fischer sent a fantastic header towards to goal. Unfortunately, Horvath’s save was even better.
The American keeper repeated this feat in the 61st minute. This attempt came from the left, where Milik released his only dangerous shot of the match: a fatal backwards header. After that, the opportunities were all for the home team for a long time. Mattias Moström shot wide and Joona Toivio, a former Telstar player, shot a free kick onto the post.
Ajax almost was rewarded for its efforts in extra time. Davy Klaassen almost sent a header into the goal, but the unfortunate El Ghazi didn’t manage to make the last pass. Even Viktor Fischer couldn’t convert a prime opportunity. Thus, Ajax was win-less once again, in its 350th European match.