Former kings of Europe Ajax
Amsterdam breathed new life into their Champions League campaign
by easing past Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 in an entertaining Group D
match on Tuesday.
The win gave Ajax, who last won the European Cup in 1995
after lifting it three times in a row from 1971-73, four points
from three games, level with Olympique Lyon ahead of the reverse
fixture against Dinamo in the Amsterdam Arena on November 2.
Real Madrid lead the way with nine points after thrashing
Olympique Lyon 4-0 while the Croatians are bottom on zero.
"We missed a lot of chances, at least six which should have
been goals, but overall I am happy with the performance and we
played exactly as we had anticipated in our pre-match buildup,"
Ajax coach Frank de Boer told a news conference.
"Theo Janssen and Miralem Sulejmani had a particularly good
game, the whole midfield was outstanding and we made it very
difficult for Dinamo with our neat passing."
Seeking their first Champions League win since 1999, Dinamo
fielded an attacking formation but Ajax always looked the more
likely winners and Derk Boerrigter's opening goal was no more
than they deserved at the Maksimir stadium.
The striker silenced a vociferous home crowd in the 49th
minute with a crisp low shot into the far corner of the net from
18 metres after good work by livewire striker Sulejmani who gave
the defence a roasting all night.
Christian Eriksen then made it 2-0 in the 90th minute when
he rounded the last defender and placed the ball beyond
advancing keeper Ivan Kelava.
Ajax squandered a hatful of chances in a lively first half
as both sides threw caution to the wind but Dinamo missed the
first good opportunity when Jerko Leko's effort was well saved
by Kenneth Vermeer.
The visitors came straight back with a swerving free-kick by
captain Jan Vertonghen that was parried by Kelava into the path
of Siem de Jong who scuffed the rebound wide with the gaping
goal at his mercy.
Kelava again came to Dinamo's rescue by denying Eriksen and
Boerrigter while the wasteful de Jong headed wide from close
range after a good cross from the left.
Dinamo striker Ante Rukavina then sliced a shot from the
edge of the penalty area high and wide after an excellent solo
run before a header by de Jong shaved the post at the other end
on the stroke of half-time.
After Boerrigter opened the scoring Ajax again spurned
several chances while Kelava produced a superb reflex save to
deny Janssen when the midfielder was sent clean through after a
De Jong then hit the post and Domagoj Vida almost scored an
own goal before Eriksen sealed Ajax's win, prompting the home
fans to treat Dinamo's players to a chorus of jeers on the final
"We created several opportunities and when you don't take
them at this level you are always going to get punished by
opposition of such quality," said Dinamo coach Krunoslav Jurcic.
Asked how Dinamo, who have yet to score in the group stage,
could improve their finishing, Jurcic said: "By allocating 20
million euros or so to buy a top quality striker
but that's beyond our means at the moment.
"Our chances of clinching even the consolation prize of
carrying on in the Europa League, which goes to third-placed
teams, are very slim."
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