Europa League - Amauri double gives Juve edge

Eurosport - Thu, 18 Feb 19:54:00 2010

Amauri's double handed Juventus a 2-1 win over Ajax in their Europa League last 32 first leg tie at the Amsterdam Arena.

Nicola Legrottaglie Juventus - 0

Miralem Sulejmani struck on the counter-attack after 16 minutes as Ajax broke the deadlock before Amauri headed Juventus level in the 31st minute.

And Amauri's aerial assault continued after the break as the Brazilian gave the Italian side the advantage ahead of the return fixture.

Juventus, languishing in sixth in Serie A, are enduring a season to forget after being knocked out of the Champions League.

But the bianconeri are unbeaten in the three games since Alberto Zaccheroni took over as boss, registering a win and two draws ahead of the trip to Holland.

It was Ajax, third in the Dutch Eredivisie, who enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and deservedly took the lead.

The home side broke from defence with lightning speed with Sulejmani picking up the ball just past the halfway line and, after Jonathan Zebina was unable to get close, slotting past Gianluigi Buffon from a tight angle.

Juve looked devoid of ideas and it took a moment of genius from Alessandro Del Piero to conjure the equaliser.

The veteran striker escaped two Ajax defenders on the left before back heeling to Paolo De Ceglie, who stood up a left-footed cross which Amauri powered home with a bullet header.

The goal was hard on Ajax and Martin Jol's side felt particularly aggrieved going into the break after Luis Suarez was denied a penalty after Giorgio Chiellini looked to have tugged the Uruguayan's shirt.

And Juve put the boot in 13 minutes after the restart when Del Piero and Amauri linked up for a second time, with Amauri producing another textbook header to bury the 35 year old's cross.

Ajax pressed for the equaliser and Siem De Jong was only denied by the post after lashing a loose ball goalwards.

Juve substitute Hasan Salihamidzic was shown a straight red card in the 92nd minute for going in for an aerial challenge foot first.

But Juve, with two away goals under their belt, held firm to take what could prove to be a decisive lead back to the Olympic Stadium in Turin.

George Scott / Eurosport

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