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Aston Villa and Ajax See Red in Goalless Draw

Aston Villa take a goalless draw back to Villa Park as they held Ajax at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

In a game of few chances, the action came from both teams receiving red cards late on. Villa’s Ezri Konsa was sent off due to a second yellow, after his challenge on Chuba Akpon in the 83rd minute. As a result, Ajax had a spring in their step, but Tristan Gooijer’s challenge on Nicolo Zaniolo resulted in another red which plateaued the match once again.

Referee Enea Jorgji is giving a red card to Aston Villa player Ezri Konsa during the match between Ajax and Aston Villa at the Johan Cruijff ArenA for the UEFA Nations League Round of 16 1st leg of the 2023-2024 season in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on March 7, 2024. (Photo by Marcel van Dorst/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Villa will be happy to have limited Ajax to few chances. Brian Brobbey, their top scorer this season, had the best chance of the game after getting sent through but shanking his shot wide. Kenneth Taylor and Borna Sosa linked up down the left but Martinez saved Taylor’s low effort.

Ollie Watkins has been so prolific in recent weeks, but was limited by a young, resolute Ajax defence. Moussa Diaby had an effort easily saved by Diant Ramaj in the first half.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – MARCH 7: Moussa Diaby of Aston Villa FC, Jorrel Hato of AFC Ajax battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa Conference League Play Offs match between AFC Ajax and Aston Villa FC at Johan Cruijff ArenA on March 7, 2024 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Despite offering little tonight, Unai Emery will feel his side has the advantage going into the second leg. They have won 16 out of 20 home matches this season and will be confident in extending this impressive run, against an Ajax side who’ve spent most of this season making up ground after a poor start.

Emery has been a serial winner in the Europa League and will be expecting to spearhead Villa’s charge through the Conference League. Winning a trophy with this side, considering where he found the squad sixteen months ago, will go down as a fantastic achievement and reinforces Emery’s European credibility.

Villarreal’s Spanish coach Unai Emery poses for pictures with the trophy after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match between Villarreal CF and Manchester United at the Gdansk Stadium in Gdansk on May 26, 2021. (Photo by Michael Sohn / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL SOHN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Ajax, though, will not be underestimated. After being appointed as their sixth manager of 2023, manager John Van’t Schip looks to have settled the team down and have risen up the league. Not having a title race to look forward to will be disappointing, the Conference League will be a chance to turn the dissatisfaction into elation at the end of the season.


Ajax: D. Ramaj, D. Rensch, A. Kaplan, J. Hato, T. Gooijer, J. Henderson, S. Mannsverk (Off 76′), B. Sosa, K. Hlynsson (Off 80′), K. Taylor, B, Brobbey.

Subs: G. Rulli, A. Gaaei, C. Akpom (On 80′), C. Forbs, J. Gorter, J. Medic, J. Rijkhoff, B. van den Bommen (On 76′), K. Fitz-Jim, B. Tahirovic, A. Martha.

Aston Villa: E. Martinez, E. Konsa, C. Lenglet, P. Torres (Off 45′), L. Digne (Off 74′), D. Luiz, T. Iroegbunam (Off 74′), Y. Tielemans, M. Diaby (Off 63′). M. Rogers (Off 63′), O. Watkins.

Subs: R. Olsen, M. Cash (On 45′), D. Carlos, J. McGinn (On 63′), A. Moreno (On 74′), J. Gauci, N. Zaniolo (On 74′), K, Kesler-Hayden, L. Bailey (On 63′), O. Kellyman.

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