Ajax 4 Leeds United 0 - Amster damage highlights work needed ahead of Manchester United opener - Verdict

Leeds United are back amongst the best, and have been for a year.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 4:45 am

Ahead of the club’s second season back in the Premier League, United’s latest summer friendly came against one of the very best, the best side in Holland and traditionally one of the best in Europe.

The Dutch champions have won four European Cups, two Cup Winners’ Cups, a UEFA Cup and two UEFA Super Cups. One day, United’s dream is to be back competing at that same level – against teams like Ajax but in proper fixtures, not friendlies.

But nobody is kidding themselves that Leeds are anywhere near that level yet, even after last season’s ninth-placed finish in the Premier League, and that point was emphasised by a 4-0 defeat in Amsterdam as part of two games against Ajax in eight hours.

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WELL HELD: Ajax's Dutch defender Daley Blind, left. keeps Leeds United winger Raphinha in check during Wednesday evening's pre-season friendly in Amsterdam. Photo by GERRIT VAN KEULEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images.

The first part of an Amsterdam double header came as a United XI containing a mixture of youth and first teamers lined up against the talented Ajax under-21s.

Kalvin Phillips and captain Liam Cooper were given their first minutes of the summer by Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa but the young Dutch side proved too hot to handle en route to a 3-1 victory.

Then came the day’s main course and Leeds lined up without Diego Llorente and summer recruit Junior Firpo who both missed out through injury.

After just two minutes. Ajax were gifted an opening goal after captain Luke Ayling failed to properly control a simple pass from Ilan Meslier on the edge of his box and Davy Klaassen stormed in before firing past Meslier.

Four minutes later, Klaassen almost found himself in again but Meslier raced off his line to gather Danny Blind’s neat cross from the left. Leeds tried to settle and Robin Koch’s drive from the edge of the box forced a strong save from keeper Remko Pasveer.

Back came Ajax and Steven Berghuis flashed an effort just wide. But the hosts doubled their lead in the 28th minute when Perr Schuurs broke all too easily from defence and played a one-two with Dusan Tadic before lifting the ball over Meslier.

Leeds threatened soon after but Raphinha’s rising drive from the edge of the box was easily saved. A much better opportunity was squandered nine minutes before the break when Rodrigo put a free header wide from a Stuart Dallas corner.

But seven minutes later, a rampant Ajax side bagged their third when Ryan Gravenberch let fly from 25 yards out with an outswinger that flew past Meslier into the right hand corner of the net.

Even before half-time it was game over although Leeds then improved after the break.

The Whites should have pulled a goal back just before the hour but Patrick Bamford could only fire against the post when following up after Pasveer had parried away a low drive by Dallas.

Dallas was proving United’s main threat as part of a half in which Leeds lost Jamie Shackleton to a head injury with 11 minutes left.

There was still time for Ajax to add a fourth which came after United lost possession and Danilo fired home from the edge of the box.

That proved the end of the punishment for Leeds who could then look forward to returning home to England ahead of the club’s final pre-season friendly on Saturday evening against Villarreal, defending Europa League champions.

Seven days later, the Whites will finally begin their second season back in the Premier League at arch rivals Manchester United.

Pre-season is not about results but match minutes and gaining fitness after a summer break.

That said, Leeds know they will need to be better than this.

Leeds United v Ajax: Meslier, Shackleton (Jenkins 79), Ayling, Struijk, Dallas, Koch, Klich (McCarron 68), Raphinha (Costa 46), Harrison, Rodrigo (Roberts 68), Bamford. Subs not used: Klaesson, Summerville.

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Thank you Laura Collins