With a victory over Ajax on Thursday night in the Europa League, Brighton and Hove Albion won its first European game. Goals from new boys Joao Pedro and Ansu Fati ensured the Premier League side a two-goal victory over the four-time Champions League winners.
All of the chances in the first half fell to the hosts. By the end of the first 45 minutes, Ajax did not have a shot on target. Brighton, on the other hand, had four shots on target. The first three fell to three different players. James Milner, Joao Pedro and Kaoru Mitoma all tested the Ajax net.
The first chance of the game was just six minutes in. Joao Pedro fired a shot after buildup play from Mitoma. The shot went just wide. Throughout the game, Pedro and the rest of the Seagulls would come narrowly close to shots on target that whizzed just wide.
However, it was Joao Pedro who scored the opener for Brighton just three minutes before halftime. Slick footwork from Mitoma led to the Japanese international firing a shot on goal. Ajax goalkeeper Diant Ramaj got down to make the save. His parry fell directly to Pedro who slammed the ball into the back of the net. A boisterous American Express Stadium finally saw Brighton take the lead in a European game.
Ansu Fati adds a second for Brighton
Brighton picked up the second half where it left the first half. Even though Ajax finally mustered a shot on target, Brighton doubled its advantage in another bout of sensational play. A team-oriented goal yielded calm play out from the back. Billy Gilmour found Simon Adingra on the right side. Adingra then found Ansu Fati in the box. A composed finish allowed the Spaniard on loan from Barcelona to roll the ball beyond Ramaj.
Not long after, Fati nearly secured a brace after a blistering shot whistled just wide of the post. Yet, Ajax came close a minute later. Steven Berghuis hit the Brighton post in an effort to halve the lead. Brighton defenders desperately cleared the ball away from any danger.
Throughout the rest of the game, Ajax looked devoid of any creativity going forward. Ajax did well to maintain any clear scoring chances from Brighton after Fati’s second goal. Mitoma slowed down as Ajax soaked up much of the offensive threat from the Seagulls. By then, the damage was done to the Dutch side.
Dominant Brighton performance adds pressure on Ajax
Brighton’s triumph over Ajax is the Premier League side’s first-ever win in European play. As a result, it is arguably Brighton’s best-ever result. By comparison, this loss capitulates the issues for Ajax. The Dutch giants have one win in seven games across all competitions this season. Not only is Ajax bottom of its Champions League group. The club is in the relegation zone in the Eredivisie.
While Brighton is flying high under Roberto de Zerbi, there is more shake-up at Ajax. The club sacked Maurice Steijn this season. It wants to bring back former assistant Mitchell van der Gaag from Manchester United. In truth, any result will likely bring positive change to the club.
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