Its just not been Ajax’s night, has it?
Manchester United have certainly played their part in this year’s Europa League final, but their Dutch opponents have undoubtedly given them a leg up to success. Sadly, they’ve not been all they were made out to be.
Ajax are of course a very good side, they wouldn’t have made the final otherwise, but entering the closing 20 minutes of the game having registered just a single shot on target is nothing to be proud of.
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Therefore, there’s no wonder that the starlet-stuffed side have been looked upon with at least a hint of disappointment.
Goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, after all, see United on course for a 2-0 victory.
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The debate over whether Sergio Romero or David de Gea should start the match has been essentially rendered redundant, too. Regardless of who was between the sticks, they would have had a reasonably uneventful night in front of Ajax’s attractive but fruitless possession.
The Dutch side’s frustration has been summed up perfectly by the performance of Kasper Dolberg.
At just 19-years-old, the Dane has burst into the Ajax first team this season and has scored 23 times across 47 appearances. His performances have even earned him a call-up to the national team.
Consequently, there were no qualms about Dolberg being given the nod for the big final. Fast forward 62 minutes though and there were certainly doubts.
For all his talent and potential, which should not be doubted, Dolberg suffered against United and was completely isolated.
As shown below, the 19-year-old also happened to produce a rather embarrassing statistic:
That’s right; Dolberg had nothing in the way of an impact upon the game while the scores were level. His first contribution was to re-start the game after Pogba consigned them to a 1-0 deficit after 18 minutes.
Nearly a quarter of the game had elapsed before he could even pass the ball. Ouch.
It goes to show that, certainly in the early exchanges, United controlled their opponents with skill and experience from the outset. The absence of Eric Bailly is far from preferable but Chris Smalling could clearly smother Ajax’s forwards with relative ease.
Moreover, while Dolberg did emerge from his isolation, his performance wasn’t good enough to see him avoid the first round of substitutions. David Neres came on in his favour in the 62nd minute.
It’s Manchester United’s night and Ajax’s young stars will have to take defeat as a harsh lesson learned. Dolberg must be wishing that Ajax had the kick-off with the statistics he’s racking up.
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