On Tuesday evening, Ajax qualified for the UEFA Champions League playoffs. At home, the Amsterdam team defeated Standard Liege by 3-0 thanks to goals by Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Matthijs de Ligt and David Neres.
Same 11 as in Liege
Erik ten Hag selected the same 11 players who were at kick off last week in Liege. That meant that, compared to the most recent game against Heracles, Nico Tagliafico, Frenkie de Jong, Lasse Schöne en Klaas Jan Huntelaar were back.
Standard makes one change
Michel Preud’homme left his line up intact compared to last week. Only Orlando Sá was swapped for Renaud Emond, who had a good turn as a substitute last week.
Ajax wanted revenge for their loss of point against Heracles and the poor second half in Liege. Thus, they were on the hunt for a goal as soon as the opening whistle blew.
And that’s what Ten Hag’s men did. In the first five minutes in the cosy Johan Cruijff ArenA, which lived and breathed the Champions League, Ajax already had 3 corners, which illustrated their attacking intentions.
They were rewarded for these intentions. After half an hour, they earned a lead. Tagliafico set forth from the back line and Huntelaar made good. 1-0! This was his 4thEuropean goal of the brand new season.
The atmosphere got even better and the players got swept up in the cheering. Four minutes after the opening goal, the score was 2-0. De Ligt sent a header into the goal via Emond. Just as in Liege, Ajax was sitting on a comfortable lead at halftime.
But the second half was different than it had been in Liege. After just one minute, Neres scored after a ruthless attack via Tagliafico and Dusan Tadic. 3-0!
After an hour of play, Standard showed up. Captain M’Poku shot the ball onto the post. Ajax let the pace drop, and the Belgian formation was able to head to Onana faster when the home team lost possession. And when that loss of possession happened 20 meters from the goal, things looked threatening. But Standard was unable to convert. Neres was almost successful in the counter. Ajax pressed on, substitute Kristensen served Huntelaar in the 78thminute, but Ochoa was in his way.
Next stop: Kiev
Standard fought for its last breath, but when the Belgians did break through, Onana was there to make the stop. The score remained 3-0 and Ajax will play their playoff game against Dynamo Kiev next week on Wednesday, at home. The winner of these two games will qualify for the group phase of the UEFA Champions League.