route to goal by Fabio.
If De Gea's first save of the night was simple, his second was sublime. Siem de Jong unleashed a bullet from 25 yards that looked destined for the top corner until the Spaniard threw himself to his left and tipped the ball around the post.
A mini aerial onslaught followed, during which Ajax slung cross after cross into the penalty area. Dmitri Bulykin headed one presentable chance over the bar but otherwise the Reds' rearguard stood firm.
De Gea's palms were then stung once more - this time rumoured United target Christian Eriksen was allowed space to advance from midfield - and Ferdinand escaped a strong penalty appeal on the stroke of half-time when he tangled with Miralem Sulejmani, as the home side grew in confidence.
The half-time break stunted Ajax's momentum and the Reds emerged sharpest, Nani drawing a fine save from Vermeer within 90 seconds of the restart before the goalkeeper again thwarted Hernandez at the striker's feet. The 26-year-old also had his own defenders trying to beat him: Alderweireld's header would have crept inside the post were it not for his diving intervention.
Vermeer was finally beaten just before the hour mark by Young, who collected Nani's low cross at the back post before calmly stepping inside