Ajax were made to rue missed chances as they were defeated 1-0 by Dnipro in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie.

dniprajaThe last Dutch side standing in Europe got off to a good start in Kiev and should have been ahead in the first five minutes when Thulani Serero was played through on goal by Davy Klaassen, but the South African’s attempted lob was saved by Boyoko.

Dnipro’s first chance was created by Ajax as Joel Veltman played a terrible back-pass to Jasper Cillessen, who could only hook the ball to¬†Seleznyov, but his shot flew wide of the post. After that the home side took control, and after a couple of missed opportunities they finally took the lead on the half hour mark as Konoplyanka made a strong run on the left before whipping in a cross for Zozulya, who evaded Nicolai Boilesen’s challenge before firing into the bottom corner.

In the last minute of the first half Joel Veltman missed a glorious chance to level the scores, with the defender somehow scooping over the bar from three yards out after a Klassen flick-on fell at his feet, following a corner.

Ajax had a lot of possession in the second half but failed to create any clear cut chances, and they had Jasper Cillessen to thank for the score not being greater for Dnipro on 65 minutes, as the goalkeeper superbly kept out a Zozulya header from point blank range.

Ricardo Kishna had Ajax’s best chance for an equaliser in the second period, but after bursting into the box the winger took too much time and allowed Douglas back to block his shot. At the other end Douglas narrowly headed over as Dnipro comfortably held on for the win.

Ajax still have a good chance to qualify as the second leg heads to Amsterdam next week, but the lack of an away goal could prove crucial, and Frank de Boer will be frustrated with the missed opportunities from his side.

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