Ajax have reached the Europa League semi-finals after a dramatic night in Germany. They have knocked out Schalke 4-3 on aggregate.
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Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Peter Bosz decided to stick with the same attack that ripped the Germans defence apart in Amsterdam. However, it was clear from the start that the game in Gelsenkirchen was going to be much different. Max Meyer struck the post early on as Schalke poured forward, while Leon Goretzka volleyed just wide.
Ajax survived the early onslaught and they created some chances of their own before the break but Nick Viergever was denied by Ralf Fährmann before Bertrand Traore saw a goal chalked off by the linesman. Schalke were the dominant side, though, and it was a relief for Ajax that they went into the break goalless.
However, two goals in the space of three minutes early in the second half turned the tie completely in Schalke’s favour. Firstly on 53 minutes, Goretzka broke into the box before firing a strike through Andre Onana and into the net. Then moments later, Guido Burgstaller levelled the tie on the night steering Sead Kolasinac’s cross into the net after a clever step over by Howedes.
Dolberg then appeared from the bench but he could not inspire the Ajax attack that struggled to trouble the German defence. With ten minutes left disaster struck with Joel Veltman shown his second yellow and Ajax were reduced to ten men.
Despite the man advantage, Schalke couldn’t finish the job in normal time and Ajax held on to force extra time. However, ten minutes into the first half Daniel Caligiuri headed Schalke’s third goal and it seemed that Ajax were to be left heartbroken.
Then in the 110th minute out of nothing, a cross fell at the feet of Nick Viergever and although his first touch took the ball away from him the defender reacted quickly to lash it past Fährmann. With seconds left Amin Younes cut in from the left to fire a low strike into the net and ensure Ajax’s place in the last four.
The Amsterdam side now awaits the semi-final draw on Friday which could see them face Manchester United, Celta Vigo or Lyon. Ajax are now two games away from the final in Stockholm.