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For Ten Hag, Europa League Has Been Full Of Challenge And Heartache

By Dylan O'Connell Updated
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After watching his team throw away a two goal lead at Old Trafford, Erik ten Hag takes his Manchester United players to Seville for their Europa League quarter final second leg against competition heavyweights Sevilla.

It will be a personal mission to the Dutch coach, as he looks to finally set the record straight in a tournament that has consistently plagued his managerial career.

This goes right back to his first experience of the Europa League with Ajax 2020, which came on the back of the club finishing third in their Champions League group. This was seen as a disappointment unto itself as not even a year had passed since they reached the tournament’s semi-finals by knocking out Real Madrid and Juventus.

Ajax faced Getafe in the last 32 of the Europa League and lost 2-0 in Spain, a night that led to the club getting fined over €50,000 because of the conduct of their supporters. A lighter was thrown from the stands and it hit Getafe striker Deyverson after he scored and seats were damaged inside the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

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Attempts to overturn the deficit were hampered by Jaime Mata finding the net inside five minutes for Getafe and despite two goals for Ajax on the night, their Europa League dream ended in a 3-2 aggregate defeat.

They failed to progress once again in the Champions League during the 2020-21 season, and their frustrations manifested in a run in the Europa League. Lille were beaten 4-2 on aggregate in the Round of 32 and then they comfortably knocked out Swiss side Young Boys.


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Ajax faced Roma in the quarter finals and Davy Klaassen scored to give them an early lead in the first leg in Amsterdam. It seemed like everything was going according to plan, but second half goals from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Roger Ibañez gave the Italians the win.

Brian Brobbey equalised on aggregate for Ajax in Rome, and that was the start of red and white wave of domination from Ten Hag and his players. Dušan Tadić thought he scored the decisive goal, but it was actually Edin Džeko who decided who was progressing to the semi-finals.



The striker tapped in from close range after Tadić’s strike got overturned, and that knocked Ajax out of the Europa League.

Ten Hag: Old ghosts

The ghost returned last week in the form of a Harry Maguire own goal in the first minute of injury time.


Once again his team has it all to do in the Europa League, except they have to go to Spain without a host of guaranteed starters.

That group includes Lisandro Martinez, who is out for the rest of the season with an injury, and Bruno Fernandes is suspended. It is doubtful that Scott McTominay will make an appearance in Spain though Marcus Rashford has been named in the squad.

That’s just a few of a group unavailable, and United will have to make do while playing at the home stadium of a team who’s entire world is the Europa League.


If the pressure wasn’t enough on Ten Hag, he will be battling his own history on Thursday at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.

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