Ajax survive Lyon rally to secure first European final in 21 years
Lyon 3 - 1 (4-5 Agg.) Ajax

Ajax survive Lyon rally to secure first European final in 21 years

Ajax secured a place in their first European final for 21 years after surviving a huge scare in Lyon.

The Dutch side, who played the final six minutes with 10 men, went through 5-4 on aggregate after losing 3-1 on the night, despite taking the lead through 19-year-old Dane Kasper Dolberg.

Lyon's in-demand striker Alexandre Lacazette led the fightback with two in 79 seconds on the stroke of half-time and Rachid Ghezzal's header, which deflected in off Nick Viergever, who moments later was sent off, resulted in a nail-biting finish.

The visitors held on, though, to set up a final meeting with Manchester United in Solna on May 24, their first European showpiece since losing the 1996 Champions League final on penalties to Juventus.

Ajax went into the clash boasting a commanding 4-1 first-leg lead, but Lyon were boosted by the return of key striker Lacazette, who was forced off early on in the clash in Amsterdam.

But for most of the first half Lacazette saw little of the ball and even less sight of Ajax's goal as the visitors' youthful side controlled the game.

He planted one early header wide, with Maxime Gonalons' glancing header easily saved by Andre Onana as Lyon struggled to generate the momentum they needed to overcome a three-goal deficit.

Their task was made even more difficult when they switched off in the 27th minute and were caught out by a straightforward clearance from Onana.

The goalkeeper's clearance exposed the hosts, who were left two versus two at the back. Dolberg collected the knockdown to exchange passes with Amin Youne and continued his run untracked to coolly dink a shot over the advancing Anthony Lopes from a narrow angle.

Lyon had no option but to raise the tempo, but it was not until 79 seconds from the end of the half that they broke through when Matthijs de Ligt was adjudged to have fouled Lacazette.

The striker picked himself up to send Onana the wrong way from the penalty spot to transform the atmosphere inside the ground.

Lyon responded and with the last kick of the half Lacazette turned in Nabil Fekir's cross at the far post after Viergever mis-kicked his clearance.

Ajax's young side were clearly rattled and at the start of the second half displayed none of the composure they had in the first.

However, they managed to blunt Lyon's attacks, with Onana only being called upon to make one genuine save 15 minutes from time when he charged down substitute Maciej Rybus's shot from Lacazette's knockdown.

Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek curled a shot against the angle of crossbar and post, which would have finally killed off the hosts, and they were left to face a frantic last 10 minutes when Ghezzal's header deflected in off Viergever, who moments later was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Maxwel Cornet almost forced extra time with a shot which flew inches wide of the far post in the final minute, but a clearly rattled Ajax managed to hold on.

Betting on EUROPA LEAGUE? Bet365 are offering a 100% deposit bonus, up to £200 - find out more

Related news

Everton meet Hajduk Split in Europa League playoff, Milan face Shkendija

Everton meet Hajduk Split in Europa League playoff, Milan face Shkendija

Everton play Croatian side Hajduk Split in the Europa League playoff round, while AC Milan have been drawn against Macedonian side Shkendija.

Franck Kessie, Patrick Cutrone star as Milan finish UEL job vs. Craiova

Franck Kessie, Patrick Cutrone star as Milan finish UEL job vs. Craiova

AC Milan are through to the Europa League playoff round after beating Universitatea Craiova 3-0 on aggregate following a 2-0 second-leg win in the third qualifying round on Thursday.

Calvert-Lewin seals Everton passage in Europa League qualifying

Calvert-Lewin seals Everton passage in Europa League qualifying

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's calm finish kept Everton's bid for Europa League qualification on course as Ronald Koeman's men edged MFK Ruzomberok 1-0 in Slovakia.

AC Milan narrowly beat CSU Craiova

AC Milan narrowly beat CSU Craiova

AC Milan's offseason spending spree paid a quick dividend when new signing Ricardo Rodriguez scored in a 1-0 win at CSU Craiova.

Baines rescues Everton in Rooney's return against Ruzomberok

Baines rescues Everton in Rooney's return against Ruzomberok

Wayne Rooney's Everton return threatened to turn into embarrassment before captain Leighton Baines struck to give his side a slender first-leg lead in their Europa League third qualifying round clash with Ruzemberok.

Ajax boss Peter Bosz: Manchester United didn't totally outplay us

Ajax boss Peter Bosz: Manchester United didn't totally outplay us

Ajax manager Peter Bosz was left unimpressed by Jose Mourinho's Manchester United in the wake of the Premier League side's 2-0 Europa League final triumph on Wednesday, though he admitted his side were deserved losers on the night.

Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera dedicate Europa League victory to Manchester

Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera dedicate Europa League victory to Manchester

Ander Herrera has admitted it was difficult for the Manchester United players to train in the build up to the Europa League final after the terrorist attack that devastated Manchester on Monday.

Jose Mourinho: 'Probably my most difficult season as manager'

Jose Mourinho: 'Probably my most difficult season as manager'

Jose Mourinho has labelled Manchester United's Europa League triumph as "the most important trophy" of his career, while adding he was happy to call time on a season that was perhaps his most difficult as a manager.

Pogba, Mkhitaryan on target as Man Utd win Europa League vs. Ajax

Pogba, Mkhitaryan on target as Man Utd win Europa League vs. Ajax

Manchester United pulled together in their city's time of darkness, showing no little skill and spirit to overcome Ajax and win the Europa League.

RELATED NEWS

Everton meet Hajduk Split in Europa League playoff, Milan face Shkendija
Europa League playoff draw

Everton meet Hajduk Split in Europa League playoff, Milan face Shkendija

Everton play Croatian side Hajduk Split in the Europa League playoff round, while AC Milan have been drawn against Macedonian side Shkendija.

Franck Kessie, Patrick Cutrone star as Milan finish UEL job vs. Craiova
Milan 2 - 0 Craiova

Franck Kessie, Patrick Cutrone star as Milan finish UEL job vs. Craiova

AC Milan are through to the Europa League playoff round after beating Universitatea Craiova 3-0 on aggregate following a 2-0 second-leg win in the third qualifying round on Thursday.

Calvert-Lewin seals Everton passage in Europa League qualifying
MFK Ruzomberok 0 - 1 Everton

Calvert-Lewin seals Everton passage in Europa League qualifying

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's calm finish kept Everton's bid for Europa League qualification on course as Ronald Koeman's men edged MFK Ruzomberok 1-0 in Slovakia.

AC Milan narrowly beat CSU Craiova
Craiova 0 - 1 AC Milan

AC Milan narrowly beat CSU Craiova

AC Milan's offseason spending spree paid a quick dividend when new signing Ricardo Rodriguez scored in a 1-0 win at CSU Craiova.

Baines rescues Everton in Rooney's return against Ruzomberok
Everton 1 - 0 Ruzomberok

Baines rescues Everton in Rooney's return against Ruzomberok

Wayne Rooney's Everton return threatened to turn into embarrassment before captain Leighton Baines struck to give his side a slender first-leg lead in their Europa League third qualifying round clash with Ruzemberok.

Ajax boss Peter Bosz: Manchester United didn't totally outplay us
Ajax 0 - 2 Man Utd

Ajax boss Peter Bosz: Manchester United didn't totally outplay us

Ajax manager Peter Bosz was left unimpressed by Jose Mourinho's Manchester United in the wake of the Premier League side's 2-0 Europa League final triumph on Wednesday, though he admitted his side were deserved losers on the night.

Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera dedicate Europa League victory to Manchester
Ajax 0 - 2 Man Utd

Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera dedicate Europa League victory to Manchester

Ander Herrera has admitted it was difficult for the Manchester United players to train in the build up to the Europa League final after the terrorist attack that devastated Manchester on Monday.

Jose Mourinho: 'Probably my most difficult season as manager'
Ajax 0 - 2 Man Utd

Jose Mourinho: 'Probably my most difficult season as manager'

Jose Mourinho has labelled Manchester United's Europa League triumph as "the most important trophy" of his career, while adding he was happy to call time on a season that was perhaps his most difficult as a manager.

Pogba, Mkhitaryan on target as Man Utd win Europa League vs. Ajax
Ajax 0 - 2 Man Utd

Pogba, Mkhitaryan on target as Man Utd win Europa League vs. Ajax

Manchester United pulled together in their city's time of darkness, showing no little skill and spirit to overcome Ajax and win the Europa League.