Manchester United v Ajax – as it happened

Manchester United progressed to the next round despite suffering for long periods during their second-leg defeat

Full-time: United crawl through to the last 16 of the Europa league. This was a highly entertaining game in which both sides were committed to attack. United had the better finishers, but Ajax had the more coherent creators and outplayed the hosts for long periods in the second half. Ultimately, however, Ajax's inability to convert their chances - which was partially down to a couple of fine saves from De Gea - cost the Dutch. An all-Manchester Europa League final is still on. United will have to beat Athletic Bilbao in the next round.

90+ 1min: Ajax dawdle over a throw-in, oddly. "Ajax will be really turning up the heat now," suggests Wiliam Peake. "Creating a Dutch oven, so to speak." Well, it is sqeaky bum time.

90 min: Anti-Fergie time: the fourth official says there will be only two more minutes.

89 min: Ajax are really going for it now, as you'd expect. But they'll need better crosses than the one Ozbiliz jsut produced: he launched it straight out of play as team-mates lined up in the box ...

88 min: Evans booked for time-wasting. That it has come to this.

GOAL! United 1-2 Ajax (Alderweireld 87') Hello! This makes for an interesting finish! A trademark tackle from Scholes gave Ajax a freekick mid-way inside the United half. it was clipepd into thje danger zone and both Vertonghen and Alderwiereld were left free to meet it (Evans performing an unhelpful spectator role), the latter applying a header from close range. De Gea got his hand to it but had little chance of keeping it out. One more goal puts United out. Of the Europa League.

83 min: Hernandez's cross is cut out, but comes back to Nani, who tries to wriggle his way into the box but is smartly dispossessed by Vertonghen.

81 min: Ajax change: Blind on, Lodeiro off.

78 min: United appear to have regained control of proceedings now and are circulating the ball at their leisure, frustrating the Dutch.

75 min: Ajax seem to be tiring a touch. Certainly some of the precision is seeping out of their play, with United's extra strength in midfield since the changes also complicating their task. After an Ajax attack foundered on that rock moments ago, United tore forward and Welbeck was given a great opportunity to spoonfeed two team-mates in the centre, but Welbeck managed to pick out the only defender instead.

72 min: Rafael, who has been full of adventure tonight, romps through the middle before slipping the ball wide to Nani, who cuts in from the wing before booming a shot past the goalkeeper .... and off the crossbar!

70 min: United change: Berbatov off, Welbeck on. United have now made all of their substitutions: I guess the fact that Ferguson wasn't comfortable enough to allow Ryan Giggs to come on for a ceremonial 900th club appearance is testament to how well the visitors have played, especially in this second half.

68 min: A counter-attack by United - an event that has become a rarity - ends when Park delays his pass and, when he does eventually get around to offloading the ball, Berbatov and Hernandez are offside.

64 min: Despite the United changes, the momentum remains firmly with Ajax. If they had a striker, they'd probably be in front by now. What happened to all the great strikers there used to be in the Dutch league? And I'm not talking about Dirk Kuyt, Mateja Kezman or Afonso Alves. "Truly incredible," wows Ben Dunn following our half-time chitchat. "But it scares me as I am sure there is someone somewhere - i.e. you, where you are sat - who could reel off the name of each team with the sole aid of the reference number. I'm heading back to England shortly and will be rummaging around my parent's attic for childhood playthings. What does a rubber-key spectrum 48k go for nowadays?" Offers, anyone? (No, I am not Noel Edmonds in disguise).

61 min: United changes: Cleverly and Young off, Scholes and Evans on. That should give you an indication of how much pressure United are under. And also of the fact that neither Young nor Cleverley offered much to commemorate the day on which Stuart Pearce included them both in his England team.

60 min: Ajax change: Eriksen off, Serero on.

58 min: Add "splendid goalkeeping" to the list of reason why Ajax have not scored again: De Gea has just displayed superb reflexes and wrist power to push a close-range Eriksen header over the bar following an Ajax corner. Ferguson is starting to look worried, and has ordered the subs to warm up.

56 min: This is impressive stuff from Ajax, who are cutting through United Basel-style, but a combination of valiant last-ditch defending (by Jones, in particular) and wobbly finishing has prevented them from taking the lead on the night. So far.

53 min: Whoops of encouragement from the magnificentlyh boisterous Ajax fans as their team win a corner right in front of them. They take it short, before Sulejmani lets fly from the edge of the area. Rafael blocks his shot. In other news, Justin Kavanagh is baffled by the Stoke subuteo team. "How come it doesn't have one of these?" he asks legitimately.

51 min: Fabio, emulating his brother on the opposite flank, rollicks down the left but misdirects his cross. No matter, as Ajax botch the clearance and United quickly regain the ball, working this time to Rafael on the right. He aims a decent cross towards berabtov but Vertonghen - the man whose excellence in central defence means Thomas Vermaelen usually plays at lefct-back for Belgium - clears again.

48 min: The match remains pleasingly open, hurtling from end to end. Nani has seen plenty of action in this half already but his repeated crosses have met with repeated clearances. Meanwhile, lots of you have emailed to ask what car I drive. I am sensing that this could be the big break I've been waiting for, a chance to make some extra cash: so, car manufacturers, make me a lucrative offer and I will publicly distance myself from your products so as to avoiding tainting them by association.

46 min: Ajax substitution: Koppers off, Klaasen on.

Half-time chitchat: "£62 pounds for a Subbuteo set?" gaps Ben Dunn having seen the price of the Stoke side I linked to on 32 mins. "Wow, I might try and dig out my old Arsenal one which contains a player who was originally Vladimir Petrović but who, with the help of a felt tip, soon became Charlie Nicholas. Worth a fiver?" Hmmn, I guess a vandalised figurine of an unsung Yugoslav trailblazer must have a certain value to a collector. But what you reallyt want is a whole squad of players in the old Exeter City away kit, you could be in busines: I saw one go for £183 the other day. Or, even better, check this out.

Half-time: A very open and entertaining game served up by two admirably attack-minded sides. It is not out of the question that Ajax could get the two goals they need to win this tie; then again, it is very unlikely that they will avoid conceding again. Which is another way of saying: stay tuned, because this promises plenty of goals.

44 min: Vermeer races out of his box to hoof the ball to safety just before Young could get on the end of a routine ball over the top. Smart sweeping by the keeper.

41 min: Nani excels to prevent the ball running out for a goalkick and then feeds Cleverley, whose bang from 20 yards demands a difficult save from Vermeer.

39 min: It is my contention that one of the reasons that Sir Alex Ferguson brought Ashley Young to Old Trafford was for his set-piece prowess. It is also my contention that Young appears to have lost that prowess in recent months. His latest freekick constitutes Exhibit Z for the prosecution, as, with lots of United players awaiting a delivery, he plops it on the head of a defender.

GOAL! United 1-1 Ajax (Ozbiliz 36') That's lovely shot from Ozbiliz, who, folowing some uncertain defending by Jones, pounced on a breaking ball and drove a low shot past De Gea from 20 yards. At least they find an end-product to reward their fine build-up play.

32 min: A squeal of agony fropm Koppers, whose latest rampage down the right comes to an end when Cleverley couls him. As Koppers receives treatment, Erikssen takes the freekick, which flies across the face of goal, and out to safety . By the way, what is the best football-related thing you've ever seen for sale on the internet? Mine just might be this, which, I believe, is the team that Tony Pulis sent into action in Valenica tonight.

28 min: Entertaining fare from United so far, with Berbatov in the midst of most of it. He just played a delightful pass through to Nani, who fired across the face of goal but no one could get on the end of it. No one other than an Ajax defender, that is, and he conceded a corner. but Young's delivery is grabbed by the keeper. "Glad you could make it, Paul," smarms Robin Hazlehurst. "Vaguely fascinated to know what tasks Mr McCourt has gone off to do that are both more menial and more important than MBMing this match. Is it his shift in the giant hamster wheel that actually powers or is he detailed to stand behind you mopping your brow and rubbing your shoulders as you do the heavy lifting here?" Are you calling me sweaty? Ian, I believe, has gone to make some magic.

25 min: Young's latest attempt to regain some form sees him run straight into an opponent rather than dodge past him. AS Ajax seek to counter, the ever-reckless Rafael earns a deserved booking for a silly tackle on Lodeiro.

22 min: De Gea is forced to make his first significant save of the match, clasping a decent Van Rhijn effort to his chest after the winger had cut inside. Other than that, the Dutch, much like Porto last night, have shown themselves to be very pleasing tecdhnically but utterly impotent up front. "Mr Doyle," begins Alan Bossman, using a form of address that has never previously been applied to me. By anyone. " Surely such a well-regarded position as MBM writer for the Guardian comes with a chauffeured car or at least a spot in the company's garage? What were you really up to?" Bah, rumbled! Waht I was really up to was picking up my teeth after I suggested to the sporst editor that I be chauffered to my crucial MBM assignment

19 min: Rafael is having a tremendous game so far, popping up all over the pitch to good effect. Moments after forcing a save from the keeper with a decent curling effort, he was in action at his right-back berth, deflecting a Sulemani shot behind after a good through-ball from Erikssen had given Ajax the whiff of a chance.

16 min: "Having gone ahead, I'm wondering if United fans will learn a lesson from City's unsporting behaviour towards Hulk and refrain from chanting 'Vermeer, your Dutch Golden Age is over"," highbrows Paul McCormick. I doubt they will chant that, Paul, but only because they seems to be having too much fun abusing Luis Suarez. I'm not sure if he's at the match.

14 min: Slack play by Ajax in midfield gifts possession to Rafael, who spots Hernandez cantering into acres of space and threads a pass through to him. The Little Pea could go for goal himself but elects to slide the ball across to Berbatov for a simple tap in. At least that was the intention but Hernandez is a very naughty little pea because his pass was sloppy.

11 min: Hello and welcome to the administrative chore that is the second leg of Manchester United's win over Ajax. Kick-off is at a.... oh. Let that be a lesson to you: don't ever bother driving into central London - even if you make it in one piece, actually finding a place to park your jalopy is an adeventure that even Indiana Jones would balk at. Meanwhile on the pitch, since that's all you really care about, Ajax have jsut wasted a corner.

8 mins: And with that goal I am back to my more menial tasks. Paul Doyle will type you through the rest. Thanks for any emails so far.

GOALLLLLLLLLL!: That is game over. Park intercepted a loose pass near the half way line before playing it to Berbatov who slipped the ball into Hernandez on the edge of the box. He eases the ball past Vermeer and into the net. Like I said. Game over.

3 mins: Ajax have the first corner of the game. Like a John Banville novel, nothing happens. They have another one though. But Rafael gets rid of it from the danger zone via his head and the ball is eventaully kicked to safety.

1min a Long ball down the left finds Bebatov smoking a fag, he gets rid of that and finds Nani in the middle whose shot stings the palms of Vermeer in the Ajax net.

Peep!!! : Damir Skomina gives us three blasts of his whistle and the game gets underway. Park is captaining United who are playing left to right. Sir Alex Ferguson is already chewing furiously.

OK, OK. Paul has been delayed parking his car so Ian McCourt here to take over things for a few minutes. The ads are on and I have had about two minutes to think about the game. My prediction? Manchester United to win by two clear goals. Send me on yours. Or any recent encounters you have had with famous people.


Preamble Paul will be here in a moment, we promise. Here's the team's to keep you satisfied.

Man Utd: De Gea, Rafael Da Silva, Jones, Smalling,
Fabio Da Silva, Nani, Park, Cleverley, Young, Hernandez,
The guys keeping the bench warm: Amos, Evra, Evans, Giggs, Carrick, Welbeck,

Ajax: Vermeer, Van Rhijn, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Koppers, De Jong, Anita, Eriksen, Ozbiliz, Lodeiro, Sulejmani.
The guys keeping the bench warm: Cillessen, Ebecilio, Ooijer, Blind, Serero, Aissati, Klaassen.

And the man in charge of it all is: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)

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