UNITED LIMP THROUGH; POTTERS OUT
Manchester United came within a goal of a shock Europa League exit as they fell to a 2-1 defeat on the night to Ajax at Old Trafford.
Two goals ahead of the Dutch giants at kick-off after an excellent performance in the first leg of their last-32 clash in Amsterdam seven days ago, the Red Devils got off to the perfect start here when Javier Hernandez extended their aggregate advantage after just five minutes.
But United failed to build on that early strike. And after Aras Ozbiliz had levelled on the night, the midfielder then set home nerves jangling four minutes from time by dropping a free-kick on to the head of Toby Alderweireld, who powered home from close range.
Another for the visitors would have sent them through on away goals. Thankfully for a red-faced United, they did not manage it and England avoided another dreadful European night on what has been a pretty poor campaign all round.
Stoke's European adventure came to an end in Valencia as Jonas' goal earned the hosts a 1-0 victory at the Mestalla and a 2-0 win on aggregate.
The Potters launched their first European campaign since the 1970s with an away win over Hajduk Split back on August 4 and came through a group containing Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev, winning seven of their 12 games.
It was always an uphill struggle after they lost the home leg last week and, although Kenwyne Jones will look back on two glorious first-half chances, it is Valencia who deservedly go through to a last-16 meeting with PSV Eindhoven.
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