Europa League: Manchester United edge out Ajax, Valencia beat Stoke

Updated: Feb 24, 2012, 17:53 PM IST

Paris: Manchester United snucked through to the last 16 of the Europa League football after they lost 1-2 in the second leg at home to Dutch outfit Ajax.

Even after the loss the English club qualified to the pre-quarters, thanks to a 3-2 aggregate. Stoke City`s dream run in their first European competition since the 1970s came to an end after a 2-0 aggregate loss to Valencia.

United went into the game Thursday with a 2-0 lead courtesy their comprehensive victory in Amsterdam. They had the perfect start to the game with Mexican striker Javier Hernandez giving his side the lead after just six minutes.

Ajax fought back valiantly and equalised just before halftime through Aras Ozbiliz and with just three minutes to the end of the game, defender Toby Alderweireld struck the winner. One more goal for Ajax would have made it 3-3 and sent the Dutch club through to the last 16 on away goals rule, however, United held on and will play Athletic Bilabao March 8.

Stoke City`s valiant run in the competition came to end with a 0-1 loss to Valencia at the Mestella. They lost the first leg at home by the same scoreline, making the aggregate 2-0 in favour of Valencia. With the victory, the Spanish club set up a clash with Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.

Manchester City`s comprehensive 4-0 victory over FC Porto Wednesday means they will be playing Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon. Athletico Madrid setup a clash with Turkish outfit Besiktas while Germans Schalke 04 play FC Twente. The only Italian team in the competition Udinese take on Dutch club AZ Alkmaar.

All last-16 ties will be played March 8 and 15

IANS