Villa draw blank at Ajax in Europa Conference League last 16

Aston Villa played out a goalless draw at Ajax on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa Conference League last-16 tie.

Both sides finished with 10 men in a closely-contested match that generated little action in front of goal.

Ezri Konsa was first shown red for the visitors for a second bookable offence in the 82nd minute, before Ajax’s Tristan Gooijer picked up a second yellow four minutes later.

Ajax and Villa struggled to create clear-cut chances and when the hosts did finally get one, Emiliano Martinez was equal to the task with a fine diving save to deny Kenneth Taylor from 14 yards.

However, the goals flowed elsewhere in Europe with the three other Europa League Conference matches producing 11 goals.

On-fire Canadian striker Jonathan David scored either side of half-time to send Lille on their way at Sturm Graz.

With just under 20 minutes remaining, Edon Zhegrova put the icing on the cake for Paulo Fonseca’s side as they head back to France with a 3-0 lead to defend.

Maccabi Tel Aviv put on an impressive display in the Greek capital to beat Olympiakos 4-1.

Eran Zahavi and Ido Shahar both scored in the opening 10 minutes to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Ayoub El Kaabi halved the deficit four minutes later, but on the half-hour mark Zahavi struck again and Dor Peretz added a fourth in the second half.

A Fredrik Gulbrandsen winner two minutes into injury-time gave Molde a 2-1 first-leg lead against Club Brugge, cancelling out Maxim de Cuyper’s late penalty after Halldor Stenevik had given the Norwegians the lead before the break.

Later, Fenerbahce travel to Union Saint-Gilloise while Maccabi Haifa host Fiorentina in Budapest.

AFP

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