Hauge strikes as Milan edge 10-man Sparta

Dnipro control Ajax but miss chances for bigger win


Dnipro claimed a deserved win over Ajax from the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie in Kiev, but may rue not building a bigger advantage to take to Amsterdam.

Roman Zozulya's 30th-minute goal gave Dnipro a 1-0 win but they could have scored more and, to make matters worse, saw three of their starting XI - Zozulya, Artem Fedetskiy and Ruslan Rotan - pick up bookings which will rule them out of the second leg.

Nevertheless, Dnipro will also be pleased not to have conceded a crucial away goal as they look to make the quarter-finals for the first time.

Ajax missed a good early opening through Thulani Serero, denied one-on-one by home goalkeeper Denys Boyko, but will also have been grateful they only conceded once during a testing first half, which was especially traumatic for visiting defender Joel Veltman.

The 23-year-old got a rollocking from his goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for a back-pass which the Holland international mis-controlled inside his area and allowed Yevhen Seleznyov to nip in and poke a shot that just went wide.

That was a huge let-off for Ajax but they found themselves trailing nevertheless inside the half-hour.

Yevhen Konoplyanka did well down the left before cutting the ball back towards the penalty area, where Zozulya took a touch before firing a left-footed shot through a defender's legs and past Cillessen.

Cillessen was unable to keep that shot out despite getting a hand to the ball, but he did much better three minutes later to deny Seleznyov following another incident Veltman will not want to remember.

The centre-back completely misjudged a long ball forward, giving Seleznyov behind him the chance to bring the ball down on his chest and fire in a volley that Cillessen parried away.

Even worse was to follow for Veltman, though, as he also contrived to miss an open goal in first-half stoppage time.

Davy Klaassen's flicked near-post header from Lasse Schone's corner found Veltman completely unmarked coming in at the far post, but he put a bouncing ball over the bar from three yards out.

That should have been 1-1, but then Ajax enjoyed another big escape of their own in the 65th minute when Cillessen denied Zozulya from almost point-blank range.

Douglas helped keep Dnipro in front with a crucial sliding block on Ricardo Kishna before the Brazilian showed his attacking prowess with a header that went just over as the hosts sought a late second.

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