Ajax’s chances of reaching the Europa League semi-finals took a big blow as they were defeated 2-1 at home by Roma.

Erik ten Hag was once again without Maarten Stekelenburg, meaning Kjell Scherpen started in goal for the hosts. Devyne Rensch returned to right-back with Edson Alvarez back in midfield.

The game got off to an energetic start with Ajax bossing possession while AS Roma looked dangerous on the counter-attack. The first big moment fell to the Italians with Scherpen forced into a good save to deny Bryan Cristante’s effort from distance.

In the 39th minute, Ajax had the lead with Davy Klaassen finishing off a well-worked move involving Dusan Tadic. It was almost immediately 2-0 but Antony couldn’t apply the finish at close range.

Five minutes into the second half, Ajax had the perfect opportunity to double their lead when Tadic was brought down just inside the box. However, the Serbian’s penalty was really poor and easily saved by Pau Lopez.

Eden Dzeko almost equalised for Roma but he could only head into the side netting. Then in the 57th minute it was 1-1 with Lorenzo Pellegrini’s harmless looking free-kick misjudged by Scherpen, who couldn’t stop it from ending up in the net.

Brian Brobbey replaced David Neres and the striker made an impact, firstly setting up Nicolas Tagliafico to have a shot saved before the striker was put through on goal by Tadic, only for Lopez to save again.

Lopez kept his side level with two big saves to deny Antony and then with two minutes left, Roma punished Ajax for their misses. A corner reached Ibanez in the box and he fired an unstoppable strike into the net.

Ajax could not find an equaliser and their unbeaten start to 2021 is finally ended in April. Ajax now head to Rome next week knowing they will have to score at least twice to make it to the semi-finals.

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