On Thursday evening there were two games in Europe which saw a Premier League side take on a team in the Eredivisie, with Ajax travelling to Brighton in the Europa League and AZ Alkmaar playing hosts to Aston Villa in the Europa Conference League. It was not a successfully night in Europe for the Dutch teams, as both lost their respective games, Ajax losing 2-0 against Brighton and AZ being defeated 4-1 by Aston Villa.
Ajax were unable to turn around their terrible start to the season as they came up against a tough side in Brighton. The hosts scored either side of half-time, first through João Pedro in the 42nd minute and then again through Ansu Fati in the 53rd minute, the goal being his third for the seagulls since his loan move from Barcelona. Brighton were dominant against Ajax, recording both the most passes (788) and the highest possession (65%) of any opponent Ajax has faced since April 2014, with striker Brian Brobbey commenting after the game that ‘We have to be realistic – Brighton is one of the best footballing teams’. Ajax will hope put a stop to their unsuccessful start to the season, however a tough trip to face top of the league PSV Eindhoven on Sunday may mean they will have to wait a little longer until they start winning again.
AZ Alkmaar are unbeaten in the Eredivisie this season, however they have not been able to translate such form into their Europa Conference League form, after their 4-1 loss to Aston Villa they now sit bottom of their group. Villa started well with Leon Bailey scoring after just 13 minutes, Youri Tielemans scored again for the English side which took them into the break 2-0 up. AZ Alkmaar tried to change things around at the break with a double substitution, Tiago Dantas and Bruno Martins Indi replacing Sven Mijmans and Alexandre Penetra for Pascal Jansen’s side. However, only six minutes into the second half, the in-form Ollie Watkins put the visitors 3-0 up, this was quickly followed by another Villa goal from John McGinn. AZ were able to get a goal back with 25 minutes to go through Ibrahim Sadiq, however this was only a consolation goal as the game petered out and ended 4-1 to Aston Villa. AZ Alkmaar will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten start to the Eredivisie season this weekend as they take on 11th placed NEC Nijmegen on Sunday.