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Edson Álvarez’s Ajax Defeats Lille Despite Timothy Weah’s Goal

Every competition is just the Gold Cup now.

Thursday’s Europa League Round of 32 first leg between Lille and Ajax featured a heavy dose of CONCACAF as the USMNT’s Timothy Weah and Canada’s Jonathan David started for the French side while Mexico’s Edson Álvarez went the full 90 for the Dutch team in their dramatic 2-1 win at Stade Pierre Mauroy.

With Weah, David, Renato Sanches, Yusuf Yazici and Jonathan Bamba leading the charge for Lille, it figured to be a busy afternoon for Álvarez in the defensive midfield position. He did well to shutdown David at the edge of the area in the 11th minute but received the game's first yellow card in the 12th after going in hard on Sanches.

Still, Álvarez was key to holding the middle of the park while completing two tackles and winning more defensive aerials (four) than any other player. He also provided one key pass going the other way, but it was the USMNT’s Weah who opened the scoring in the 72nd-minute following a godawful back-pass from Nicolás Tagliafico. 

Tagliafico would make amends with just three minutes remaining by drawing a foul in the area from Sanches. Dušan Tadić converted the penalty. 

That was devastating for Lille, as evidenced by Ajax’s winner just two minutes later. Brian Brobbey provided the finish, but it’s the pass from Davy Klaassen that deserves our praise.  

The second leg in Amsterdam is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25. 

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