FOOTBALL NEWS

23/02/2012 23:29, Report by Steve Bartram
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Player ratings vs Ajax

We assess the performances in United's Europa League defeat to Ajax...

David De Gea: Made another vital contribution with a stunning reflex stop to keep out de Jong's close-range header. A positive display with some sharp handling and he gave plenty of instructions to a much-changed defence.

Rafael: Picked up a first half booking for a strong, yet fair challenge, but didn't let it affect his approach. Nicked possession wherever possible and always looked to bomb forward. Had several first half runs, and forced Vermeer into a smart save with a left-footed shot.

Chris Smalling: Played it safe and simple throughout. Dominant in the air and disciplined, despite being fronted with waves of Ajax attack, especially in the second period.

Phil Jones: Returned to central defence for the first time since January's defeat at Newcastle, and was given a stern test by Ajax's three-man front line. Shifted to midfield later on, and understandably looked to tire after so long on the sidelines.

Fabio: Started very brightly, breaking up Ajax attacks and starting a couple of forward forays. Surrendered possession a handful of times as the game wore on, however, but will be glad to complete another valuable 90 minutes.

Nani: Sporadically threatened on both flanks, but was often unable to find the final pass or cross. When he did, his sublime reverse pass to Berbatov was spurned and he was hugely unfortunate after the break thundered against the crossbar.

Tom Cleverley: Started well enough and looked sharp, always keeping the ball moving, but thereafter struggled with the pace of the game which, after almost four months on the sidelines, was perhaps inevitable.

Ji-sung Park: The stand-in skipper began

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