Manchester United join neighbors City in last 16 of Europa League
February 23, 2012 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Manchester United celebrate Javier Hernandez's goal but they were beaten 2-1 by Ajax at Old Trafford
- Manchester United reach Europa League last 16 despite second leg defeat
- Ajax win 2-1 at Old Trafford but lose 3-2 on aggregate
- Valencia go through with 1-0 win over Stoke and 2-0 on aggregate
- Atletico Madrid join strong Spanish contingent in last 16
(CNN) -- Manchester United joined neighbors Manchester City in the last 16 of the Europa League but were given an almighty scare by Dutch visitors Ajax in their second leg tie Thursday.
United led 2-0 from the first leg in Amsterdam last week and looked set to cruise through when Javier Hernandez put them ahead with a well-taken early goal.
But Ajax leveled the match later in the first half through a low shot from Aras Ozbiliz and when Toby Alderweireld headed them with four minutes to go United were rocking.
Alex Ferguson's men had thrown away leads during their failure to qualify from the group stages of the Champions League and this was another reminder.
But they were able to play out time to lose 2-1 on the night but go through 3-2 on aggregate and will face Athletic Bilboa in the next round.
Ferguson admitted his youthful selection had nearly cost them their passage through.
I must say, I've got to accept I'm responsible for picking the team and tonight I picked too many young players in the back four positions
"I must say, I've got to accept I'm responsible for picking the team and tonight I picked too many young players in the back four positions -- that was a big problem in terms of experience. It was a big risk I took," he told Channel Five.
"We only had one shot in the second half. I thought we were very poor in the second half," he added.
Bilboa's Spanish counterparts Valencia, like City and United among the favorites to lift the Europa League title, also went through with a 1-0 home win over Stoke City.
They led the English Premier League side 1-0 from the first leg and scored the only goal of the return in the Mestella through Jonas after 24 minutes.
On a good night for La Liga sides, Atletico Madrid also qualified for the last 16 as they beat Lazio 1-0 at home to go through 4-1 on aggregate against the Italians.
Part of complete coverage on
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
April 24, 2013 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Luis Suarez's biting of Branislav Ivanovic is the latest episode of moments of madness when soccer stars behave badly.
March 29, 2013 -- Updated 0938 GMT (1738 HKT)
Sunderland's partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation is part of its bid to woo the African market.
March 28, 2013 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
Each year as many as 700 Cameroonian young footballers leave Africa in search of a professional career abroad.
May 6, 2013 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Referees across Europe are feeling the heat. Insulted, threatened, chased off the field, attacked, hospitalized and, tragically, killed.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
A red card for Manchester United's Nani during Tuesday's loss to Real Madrid sparks huge social media reaction.
February 26, 2013 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Footballers have a battery of physios, fitness trainers and doctors all striving to fine-tune their physique -- but are they missing a trick?
February 26, 2013 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
No Englishman has won the EPL title in over 20 years, while a leading manager reveals that English coaches are now "not respected abroad."
May 13, 2013 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
Hardcore Italian football "ultra" Federico is a Lazio supporter who happily admits directing monkey chants at black players.
March 5, 2013 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
When Jupp Heynckes made his Bundesliga debut as a player in 1965, the name of Bayern Munich was a new one for the nascent German league.
February 19, 2013 -- Updated 1902 GMT (0302 HKT)
Football's world governing body FIFA has confirmed it will use goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
February 19, 2013 -- Updated 1403 GMT (2203 HKT)
Match-fixing has become a worldwide issue, with hundreds of matches under investigation -- but how do you actually fix a football game?
February 18, 2013 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
U.S soccer star Robbie Rogers has "come out" as gay on the day he retired from the game, making the announcement on his blog.
February 11, 2013 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
The wealth of owners like Chelsea's Roman Abramovich often fuels success, but for other clubs such backers prove a mixed blessing.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
Brand Beckham is moving from the "City of Angels" to the "City of Light" as the football icon signs a short-term deal and offers to give away his pay.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
Fireworks inside his own house, a car crash in his first week at Manchester City, that iconic t-shirt -- the EPL will miss Mario Balotelli.
January 30, 2013 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
The Secret Footballer reveals the complex issues surrounding racism in the English Premier League.
January 30, 2013 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
The death of 73 football fans in Port Said tragedy continues to haunt Egypt.
Today's five most popular stories