Ajax late show stuns Thun
By Alex Livie. Last Updated: 02/11/05 9:35pm
Ajax scored twice in injury time to stun FC Thun 4-2.
The Dutch side could have been on the end of a beating, but they hung on and stunned the Swiss side in stoppage time.
Ajax twice led through Wesley Sneijder and an own goal from Armand Deumi, but Thun replied through Mauro Lustrinelli and Adriano Pimenta.
Thun dominated the final 15 minutes, but squandered a host of chances and were made to pay as Nigel de Jong and Nourdin Boukhari netted in injury time to claim an unlikely win for Ajax.
Arsenal have qualified from Goup B following a win over Sparta, with Ajax looking strong favourites to join them in the knockout stages.
Sneijder has been the heartbeat of the Ajax side this term and a fine run which was snubbed out by Deumi set the tone for the evening.
Thun were not overawed by Ajax's neat passing and they created the first opening on six minutes, with Lustrinelli failing to do justice to an excellent cross from Jose Goncalves.
Lustrinelli was at it again on ten minutes, as he ghosted into space in the Ajax box but failed to direct his header on target.
Ajax took time to find their feet, but they created three chances in quick succession around the quarter hour. De Jong shot over, Ryan Babel threatened from the left and Zdenek Grygera forced a fine instinctive save from Eldin Jakupovic.
Thun caused palpitations in the Ajax defence on 22 minutes when Ljubo Milicevic thumped a shot goalwards from a corner, but was left in bewilderment when his effort cannoned to safety off the body of team-mate Deumi.
Ajax may have rode their luck early on, but there was nothing lucky about their opener from Sneijder on 27 minutes.
Yannis Anastasiou should have been the man on the scoresheet, but he contrived to head Urby Emanuelson's sumptuous cross straight at Jakupovic. The keeper could only parry the effort and Sneijder stepped in to save his Greek team-mate's blushes by slamming the rebound into the corner.
Nelson Ferreira and Tiago Bernardi both failed to convert chances for Thun before the break, while de Jong crashed an effort against the post and Sneijder stabbed just wide after gliding past two challenges as Ajax attempted to press home their advantage.
Ajax started the second half in positive fashion, with Sneijder forcing a low save from Jakupovic and then stabbing a shot into the side netting from a tight angle after the keeper had made a hash of Babel's low strike.
Lustrinelli may have been wasteful in the first half, but he showed his class in front of goal on 56 minutes as he fired a low shot across Maarten Stekelenburg and into the corner after being slipped in by substitute Adriano Pimenta.
Ajax's young stars could have wilted in the cauldron of the Stade de Swiss, but they responded in classy fashion by retaking the lead just after the hour.
Sneijder, as ever, was at the heart of the move, spreading the play to Babel who, not for the first time, skipped past Alen Orman and delivered a cross for Anastasiou. The Greek got a slight touch on the ball, but the goal may be credited to Deumi who unfortunately sliced the ball into his own net.
Thun went in search of a leveller and it took a fantastic saving tackle from Johnny Heitinga to take the ball off the toe of Bernardi following a swift break from the Swiss.
The Swiss refused to admit defeat, though, and substitute Adriano, the creator of the first, converted following a mad scramble in the box to reel-in Ajax once again.
Thun had the wind in their sails and Bernardi and Andres Gerber both snatched at chances to sink Ajax.
Lustrinelli went from hero to zero ten minutes from time as he somehow headed wide from six yards, having been found in the centre of goal by Gerber, and he was made to rue his costly miss.
Ajax were hanging on by a thread in the final ten minutes, but Danny Blind's young stars somehow found a winner with de Jong slamming home from 20 yards after Thun were caught napping in their own box.
Ajax promptly rubbed salt into the wounds when Steven Pienaar played in Boukhari with a clever back-heel to kill off a brave effort from Thun.
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|FC Thun||Team Statistics||Ajax|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|4||Shots on Target||10|
|12||Shots off Target||10|
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