Barry strike sinks Ajax
Aston Villa kicked off their Uefa Cup Group F campaign in style with a fine 2-1 success over Ajax.
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 24/10/08 12:50am
Aston Villa kicked off their Uefa Cup Group F campaign in style with a fine 2-1 success over Ajax at Villa Park.
Although Thomas Vermaelen cancelled out Martin Laursen's opener, Gareth Barry struck on the stroke of half-time to give Martin O'Neill's side the points.
The home side made a bright start to the contest and were rewarded for their endeavours after eight minutes when Laursen headed Villa in front.
Ashley Young delivered the perfect corner for the Dane to arrive right on cue to nod home past the helpless Kenneth Vermeer in the Ajax goal.
However, Ajax did not go into their shell and were back on level terms on 22 minutes in a similar fashion to Villa's opener. Urby Emanuelson delivered a telling corner that Vermaelen powered home in off the crossbar.
Back in front
Young spurned a good chance to restore Villa's lead when he pulled his half-volley wide of the near post, but they were back in front before half-time courtesy of Barry.
Young's left-wing cross was allowed to travel to the edge of Ajax's box where Barry was well-placed to gleefully stroke home a clever left-footed effort inside the far corner of the net.
Villa came close to adding to their lead shortly after half-time, but Vermeer scrambled back to his goal well to collect Laursen's goal-bound header after Ajax failed to clear a corner.
The majority of the crowd wanted a penalty when Gabriel Agbonlahor and substitute Leonardo tangled in the box, but a spot-kick would have been a harsh decision on the visitors.
Although Ajax finished the stronger at Villa Park, O'Neill's troops rarely looked flustered at the back and held on for a fully deserved victory.
One slight negative for Villa on what was a hugely positive night for the club was the sight of Agbonlahor being stretchered off just before the full-time whistle with a knee injury.