Lerkendal was the place to be last night as Rosenborg BK met Ajax in the second leg of the Europa League playoffs. Trondheim has been craving European football and the crowd was ready and eager for another chance at it. More than an hour before kick-off and the fans were pouring in – and they were in good voice, particularly in Kjernen, the standing supporter section on the east side of the stadium.
A full house last night
Being one goal ahead after the away game in Amsterdam last week, Rosenborg were be in a good position to take it home, but Ajax a club with good European pedigree and they certainly wasn’t going to make it easy. Coaches from both teams had high praise for the other and were anticipating an intense match.
Adegbenro began on the bench but would come on and change the game
‘It will undoubtedly be a close match,” said Marcel Keizer, the manager of Ajax. “Rosenborg have players who can decide the outcome of the match, and we must therefore respond appropriately.”
RBK pressed hard in the first half
The first few minutes saw Ajax pressing hard into Rosenborg territory. Ajax let a few opportunities slip, and others were denied by some impressive goalkeeping from Andre Hansen. It wasn’t long before Rosenborg started to gain some ground; they had good stints in possession, but still struggled to find clear chances in front of the net. Ajax, while looking the more dangerous side, also lacked bite when attacking the goal.
Bendtner reels away after scoring the first of the night
sending the crowd in to rapture
Halfway through the first 45 minutes and we got to see a classic Nicklas Bendtner goal. Some great build-up play, an excellent cross in from Midtsjø, followed by a lordly header into the back of the net. An explosive response from the fans was certain to have been heard as far away as Molde. The remainder of the half saw Rosenborg doing well in possession of the ball, a few missed chances and signs of an increasingly frustrated Ajax.
The impressive Midtsjø looses out down the right
Keizer must have had some strong words to his team during halftime; Ajax came back onto the field ready to battle. Putting on Klaas-jan Huntelaar and switching up to two attackers improved Ajax’s game substantially. They dominated possession and looked ready to score. Eventually they did; Amin Younes and Lasse Schöne both put balls past Rosenborg keeper Andre Hansen within a minute to two if each other.
Great atmosphere in the stadium, which eventual helped pull the team through
Though they went down by a goal in a very short time, it must be said Hansen was impressive the full 90 minutes; without him between the posts there would have been much more than two goals to Ajax. His performance throughout the match earned him the votes from the supporters for man of the match.
The ‘twelfth man’ was also incredibly important last night. It was a classic European night at Lerkendal, absolutely electric, the atmosphere was intoxicating. There was perhaps one second of silence as Rosenborg went down 2-1, but soon everyone in the stadium was up on their feet cheering and singing songs, urging Rosenborg onwards towards goal.
Adegbenro rises for his first goal…
and runs off to the corner to celebrate
In both of the matches against Ajax, the late substitution of Samuel Adegbenro drastically changed the course of the game. He snuck one past Ajax keeper Andre Onana in Amsterdam with less than five minutes in a Rosenborg jersey. The two goals he got last night go to show how dangerous of an attacking option he will be for the club: the first a towering header into the the top corner and the second a near post drive after dropping a shoulder and dribbling clear of his markers in the box.
Adegbenro bears down on the Ajax goal for his second of the night
A win last night means that Rosenborg will be in the draw for the group stages of the tournament early this afternoon. RBK manager Kåre Ingebrigtsen, when asked about what teams he would like to meet in the group stages, answered Arsenal or any other English clubs, Hertha Berlin, and FC Copenhagen. For teams he didn’t want to be grouped with he answered Liverpool, for the sole reason that he dislikes travelling to the city. Well, they’re not actually in this competition yet, so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Bendtner was in agreement with Kåre in regards to wanting to take a crack at Arsenal, his former club. And captain Mike Jensen, who was excellent on the night, didn’t seem concerned about the draw: “We aren’t afraid of any club,” he told reporters shortly after the game.
words by Bradley Kurtz
all photos by Wil Lee-Wright for Photography for The List Media