Aston Villa have become the first team to make it through to the final eight of this seasons NextGen Series after overcoming Ajax in Amsterdam by two goals to one yesterday evening.
The Villa boys went to the game as the official under-dogs having been seeded in the bottom half of the draw but after positive results against PSV Eindhoven, who have been the better youth team on a domestic front than Ajax this season, not to mention thrashing Sporting Lisbon 5-1 in their last NextGen tie in November 2012.
Ajax meanwhile are without many of their star players from the beginning of the competition and their hopes of reaching the final for a second consecutive year were always going to be slim with the likes of Viktor Fischer and Davy Klaasen playing in the first team.
Indeed that has proved the case as the English side proved to strong and advanced to the latter stages.
One of Ajax’s star players has been Lesley de Sa and after 15 minutes it was he who laid the ball on a plate for Djavan Anderson to finish comfortably.
The Ajax goal however had come against the run of play and the competitions top scorer Mikey Drennan came extremely close with a curling effort going within inches of the post and levelling the game.
Just moments later however and the Irishman made no mistake by notching his sixth goal of the competition to level proceedings and Ajax had to hold on until the break as Villa sustained their pressure.
In the second half it was much of the same and anything but a Villa win would have been an unjust result for their efforts at De Toekomst and the Claret-and Blues got their just desserts after the hour when Bradley Lewis struck to give them a 2-1 advantage which Ajax never looked in danger of levelling.
The result means Villa are in the final eight for the second year running after losing out at the quarter-final stage against Marseille last season.
Here are some reactions from ecstatic Villa players…
Great win for us tonight! What a team performance Good to get on the scoresheet :) just hope my injury isn't bad!
— mikey drennan (@mikeydrennan) February 19, 2013
Beat Ajax 2-1 through to the quarter finals of the @nextgenseries #buzzing #avfc
— Joshua Webb (@_JoshuaWebb) February 19, 2013
absolutely buzzing!! into the last 8 scoring the winner was unreal feeling the team were unbelievable thanks everyone for the messages!!
— Bradley Lewis (@BradleyLewis27) February 19, 2013
Unbelievable tonight! Big well done to my man @bradleylewis27 scoring the winner!! All u villa fans gotta give this lad follows haha #baller
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish1) February 19, 2013
They are the first British team through but hopefully not the last; Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are all in action today hoping to join Villa in the quarter-finals.
Villa will face the winners of today's tie between Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain in the next round.
image: © ell brown