De Zerbi seeks winning mentality after Brighton seal Europa League win

Victory over Ajax ended club's run of five matches without success

Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi celebrates his team's Europa League win over Ajax at the Amex stadium. AP
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Roberto de Zerbi stressed the importance of changing the mood at Brighton after they beat Ajax 2-0 at the Amex Stadium to claim a first European victory.

It ended a run of five games without a win as the club have struggled with injuries during their debut Europa League campaign, though their European hopes were firmly revived with a comprehensive triumph over the four-time European champions.

From the first minute Brighton outclassed a poor Ajax side, who just three days after sacking manager Maurice Steijn amidst the club's worst-ever start to an Eredivisie season barely mustered an attack.

Joao Pedro tapped in on the rebound after Karou Mitoma's shot had been parried, breaking the deadlock minutes before half-time and handing Brighton a deserved lead.

The advantage was doubled eight minutes after the break when on-loan Barcelona forward Ansu Fati took a brilliant first touch to come inside his defender and rolled the ball into the corner after being set up by Simon Adingra.

It was a first win in three attempts on the team's debut European campaign, lifting them to third in Group B and to within a point of leaders Marseille with whom they drew in France three weeks ago.

"The focus today has been the first win in European competition for Brighton, for our fans, for our club, for our owner and for ourselves," said De Zerbi. "We didn't deserve to lose against AEK [Athens], and today we wanted 150 per cent the victory.

"We played a great game with high quality. We could score more goals, but the most important thing is we didn't concede and we closed the game with a clean sheet.

"For us in this moment, it's important to change the mood, to start winning games, to start to play better because we [have not been] playing like last season."

The manager praised the contributions of his two goalscorers, with Pedro out in front as the team's leading European scorer with four goals in three games, while Fati also continued his adaption to life in England after moving from La Liga.

"Both are great players, I think both can play better," said De Zerbi. "We are helping a lot Ansu because he didn't play so many games last year, for him he's started a new football life. He's an incredible player, Joao Pedro as well.

"They're very young, we have to help them to progress, but they have to help themselves first of all, working hard during the week, and during the game. But they are both incredible players."

Updated: October 27, 2023, 9:49 AM