Villa frustrate Ajax with the tie in their hands

Aston Villa have left Ajax frustrated after tonight’s UEFA Europa Conference League ended in a goalless draw with both sides finishing the game with 10 men. The away side will be happier fancying themselves at Villa Park in the return leg.

It was far from a classic with Villa never really getting out of second gear with the talking points being made by the referee with a rather bizarre performance.

Villa travelled in their numbers with videos popping up on social media all day of those drinking and enjoying a sing-song along the Oudezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam.

Unai Emery opted to make five changes from the side that beat Luton at the weekend. Pau Torres, Lucas Digne, Morgan Rodgers, Moussa Diaby and Tim Iroegbunam were all handed starts as Matty Cash, John McGinn, Àlex Moreno and Leon Bailey were rested while Jacob Ramsey missed out through injury.

The home side had the biggest threat in the first half and it came through Brian Brobbey when he sprinted away from Ezri Konsa but his effort on goal was poor as he hit it wide and failed to trouble Emiliano Martínez in the Villa goal.

Emery introduced his rested stars in the second half which seemed to spruce a bit of life into the game but once again Ajax came close but Martinez was a match for Kenneth Taylor who had the effort.

Substitute and former Middlesbrough forward Chuba Akpom looked to have a free header late on but he failed to connect with the ball summing the game up.

The biggest talking point would have been that of the referee. Silly yellow cards throughout the game, for both sides, resulted in both ending the game with a man sent off.

Konsa was given his marching orders for a second yellow late on after a tussle with Akpom. Replays showed it was extremely harsh with Akpom cleverly pulling Konsa.

Moments later, it appeared the referee wanted to even things up when Tristan Gooije was also handed his second yellow in another, nothing collision.

Villa will take this and Ajax will have it all to do next Thursday when they visit Birmingham with the game finely poised.

What the manager said

Emery: “More or less this is a good result, but it is still very open (the tie). We want to impose our game plan more in the second leg. We need to use our skills, not like tonight. Today we didn’t show our best potential.”

What’s next

Aston Villa will welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Villa Park on Sunday in the Premier League as both sides fight it out for a Champions League place.

Ajax will host Fortuna Stittard on Sunday before the two sides meet again next Thursday.

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