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Europa League last 32 First Leg – Thursday 16 February 2012

Second half strikes from Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez helped Manchester United to a 2-0 win over Ajax on Thursday evening.

Young’s goal, his first since September, came just before the hour mark, before Hernandez struck a decisive second five minutes from time to hand United a strong lead as they enter the return leg next Thursday.

Ajax started the match the stronger and might have taken the lead after 15 minutes when Jonny Evans gifted the ball to Dico Koppers, but his weak shot did not trouble the impressive David de Gea.

In truth, United were wasteful in the opening 45 minutes, with Hernandez running in behind looking their greatest threat. De Gea produced a fine save to deny the home side after 33 minutes when he tipped wide a Siem De Jong effort.

The away side began the second period with much better purpose and Nani and Wayne Rooney both went close inside the opening 15 minutes of the half. They took the lead on 59 minutes when Nani found Young, and the England winger cut inside before firing the ball past Kenneth Vermeer.

Hernandez made it two when Antonio Valencia burst through midfield and found Rooney, who in turn laid the ball to the Mexican and he made no mistake from close range.