Ajax out of Europa League but can still join AZ in Conference League

AFC Ajax are out of the UEFA Europa League following their 4-3 defeat to Olympique Marseille on Thursday night, with the Amsterdammers failing to have won a game in their opening five games in the competition. The game itself was frantic, intense and end to end. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang opened the scoring for Marseille from the penalty spot in the ninth minute but Brian Brobbey drew the visitors level merely one minute later. Chancel Mbemba then headed Marseille back into the lead in the 28th minute but once again only to see Brobbey score two minutes later, seeing the two sides go into the break level.

The second half continued in the manner of the first, Aubameyang put Marseille back ahead for the third time in the evening just two minutes into the second half with an impressive overhead kick. The game became even harder for Ajax after midfielder Steven Berghuis was sent off in the 63rd minute. Somehow Ajax were able to get themselves back into the game, Chuba Akpom scored with his first involvement in the game after coming on as a substitute in the 79th minute and it looked like the game would end level.

However, there was a twist in the tale in the dying minutes of the game, a cross came into the Ajax box but goalkeeper Diant Ramaj was unable to safely collect and parried the ball to the ground, committing a foul in the process of trying to regain control of the ball. Aubameyang had the chance to complete his hat-trick and finally put the game to bed, he cooly slotted home his second penalty of the match and saw Marseille go ahead for the fourth and final time. The game ended 4-3 to the home side after 97 minutes of electric football. Following this result Ajax sit at the bottom of their group with only two points and will need to beat AEK Athens at home in their final game of the group stage in order to progress to the UEFA Conference League after the winter break.

AZ Alkmaar kept their hopes of staying in the Conference League alive after they beat HSK Zrinjski 1-0, with Vangelis Pavlidis scoring the only goal of the game from the penalty spot. The team from Alkmaar will need to either beat Legia Warsaw by a margin of over 5 goals to ensure they finish in second position in their group. Or, beat Legia Warsaw and finish in third position in their group which will see them take part in a match against a club sent down from the Europa League.

GBeNeFN | Max Mumford

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