Ajax are into the Europa League final despite a 3-1 defeat to Lyon on Thursday night. They progress 5-4 on aggregate and will meet Manchester United in the final.

Leading 4-1 from the first leg, Ajax were in the driving seat but their near collapse against Schalke in the quarter-finals showed just how fragile their defence could be.

Ajax survived the opening stages as Lyon piled on the pressure in a ferocious atmosphere and eventually began to create chances of their own. On 26 minutes, Ajax broke and Amin Younes set up Kasper Dolberg to lift the ball over Anthony Lopes and secure the Dutch side a crucial away goal.

It looked like Ajax were comfortably going into the break ahead, but on 43 minutes, Matthijs de Ligt went to ground in the box to challenge Lacazette and the referee awarded a penalty. Lacazette picked himself up to net. A minute later disaster struck for Ajax as a poor clearance fell to Nabil Fekir, who crossed for Lacazette to tap in a quick fire second. All of a sudden Ajax went from comfortable to knowing Lyon only needed two goals in the second half to take the game to extra time.

The French side poured on the pressure from the start of the second half, but they missed chance after chance, while Ajax remained dangerous on the counter attack. Fekir should have made it 3-1 but after being played through on goal by a de Ligt clearance he skied over. At the other end, Donny van de Beek was unlucky to see his strike cannon off bar and post.

With ten minutes left, Lyon did find their third when Nick Viergever deflected a Rachid Ghezzal header, which was going wide, past Onana. The last five minutes were made even harder when Viergever was shown a second yellow card for a silly challenge on Fekir outside the box. However, despite coming under intense pressure, Ajax held on through three minutes of added time to book their place in the final.

Ajax’s 1st European final in 21 years will be played against Manchester United on the 24th of May.

 




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