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Afp

Ajax open Champions League account with Lille thumping amid mass fan arrests

By AFP
media Nicolas Tagliafico crashed home the third as Ajax cruised past Lille in their Champions League opener ANP/AFP

Ajax began their Champions League campaign with a thumping 3-0 win over Lille on Tuesday to spark hopes of another deep run in the competition after their thrilling charge to the semi-finals last season.

Goals from Quincy Promes, Edson Alvarez and Nicolas Tagliafico saw off a spirited Lille side, who came into the match following the arrest of over 300 of their supporters after unrest earlier in the day.

The away supporters were arrested close to the Johan Cruyff Arena hours ahead of the Group H match, with the ANP national news agency reporting that fans were walking along the metro lines, forcing officials to halt rail traffic and evacuate two stations for a short while.

The impressive win puts Erik ten Hag's side top of the group, level on three points with Valencia following their 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

A frantic first half saw both sides hit each other with attack and counter-attack, and the hosts thought they had grabbed a 13th-minute lead when Hakim Ziyech brilliantly took Dusan Tadic's pass and fired off a powerful shot, only for the Moroccan to watch in anguish as the ball rattled out off the post and bar.

However they had a deserved lead five minutes later, the impressive Promes beating a dawdling Lille defence to Tagliafico's looping cross and glancing the opener in off the post.

Promes, a summer signing from Sevilla, then had a great chance to double Ajax's lead four minutes before the break as he charged onto a pinpoint long pass from Alvarez, but couldn't get enough on his volleyed finish to send it over Lille stopper Mike Maignan.

However they only went in ahead at half-time thanks to keeper Andre Onana, who pulled off an excellent save from Jonathan Ikone before Victor Osimhen spooned over the rebound.

Alvarez doubled the Dutch champions' lead five minutes after the restart when he collected a superb David Neres pass and fired home from a tight angle.

Tagliafico then sealed the three points with a bullet header just after the hour mark to leave a frustrated Lille bottom of the group and home fans dreaming of another year of European drama.

 
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