Wonderful European evening in Johan Cruijff ArenA

Edson Alvarez 1280
Edson Alvarez 1280

Ajax made an excellent start to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday evening. The Ajax players were too strong for Rangers FC, last season's runner-up in the UEFA Europa League, beating them 4-0 in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. Edson Álvarez, Steven Berghuis, Mohammed Kudus and Steven Bergwijn made their mark for Amsterdam.

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Alfred Schreuder made two changes to the starting line-up compared with the home game against SC Cambuur (4-0). Kudus and Kenneth Taylor came off the bench at the expense of Brian Brobbey and Davy Klaassen.

Immediate high pressure
Ajax started the game well and immediately put pressure on the Scottish defence. It did not initially lead to any great opportunities, but when Álvarez struck his header in the 17th minute, the spell was broken. The Mexican sent a corner diagonally to the far post: 1-0.

The hunger of the Ajax players was not satisfied by the first goal. The urge to attack continued and Rangers were hardly given any breathing space. Ajax had two good chances from Devyne Rensch, but a save from goalkeeper McLaughlin and a wrong choice (staying wide instead of shooting) prevented it from going 2-0 before the end of the first half hour.

Two goals within three minutes
In the 32nd minute, the score was doubled. Steven Berghuis managed to stay on his feet, put the ball in front of his preferred left foot and took the shot. The ball careered into the Scottish goal via a Scottish leg. It was somewhat fortunate, but no less deserved.
Just over a minute later, Ajax struck again, this time through Kudus. The occasional striker lived up to his reputation by smashing the ball into the far corner. Goalkeeper McLaughlin heard the effort whizz past him.

There were a number of threatening moments and chances for Ajax before half-time, but Dutchman Giovanni van Bronckhorst's team was spared worse trouble.

Fine solo by Kudus
After the break, the tempo of the match initially dropped a little. Ajax did not need to score and Rangers simply could not. A solo effort from Kudus after more than an hour fanned the flames again from an Amsterdam perspective. The Ghanaian toyed with a number of Rangers defenders in the opposition's sixteen-yard box, but ultimately failed to press for his second goal of the evening.

After 71 minutes, Rangers thought they had made it 3-1, but Barisic's goal was disallowed for offside. The margin of three remained, Ajax maintained a clean sheet and had the opportunity to increase their lead in the final stages. This was achieved ten minutes before full time. After a poor backward pass from Rangers, Bergwijn was suddenly one-on-one and did not fail in front of McLaughlin: 4-0.

Ajax therefore started their new European campaign convincingly and can look forward with confidence to the second group game, next Tuesday at Liverpool.

Ajax – Rangers FC 4-0 (3-0)
17. Álvarez 1-0
32. Berghuis 3-0
34. Kudus 3-0
80. Bergwijn 4-0

Ajax: Pasveer; Rensch, Timber, Bassey, Blind (82. Baas); Álvarez (89. Sánchez), Berghuis (82. Klaassen), Taylor; Bergwijn (82. Ocampos), Kudus (89. Brobbey), Tadic.

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