Ajax 3-0 Lille: Ten Hag's men start Champions League campaign in style

Quincy Promes, Edson Alvarez and Nicolas Tagliafico were on target as Ajax thumped Lille 3-0 at the Johan Cruijff Arena.

Published : Sep 18, 2019 10:40 IST

Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico scored the third and final goal against Lille on Tuesday.
Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico scored the third and final goal against Lille on Tuesday.

Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico scored the third and final goal against Lille on Tuesday.

Last season's beaten semifinalists Ajax opened its 2019-20 Champions League campaign with a convincing 3-0 win over Lille on Tuesday.

Erik ten Hag's side – which was denied a place in the final by Tottenham last term – was in dominant mood against its Ligue 1 opponent and looked well placed to claim all three points from the outset in Amsterdam.

Quincy Promes headed them into an 18th-minute lead before Edson Alvarez scored his first goal for the club five minutes after the interval.

Nicolas Tagliafico added a third with a thumping header after 62 minutes as the Dutch champion stormed into pole position in Group H.

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Ajax started on the front foot and went agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 14th minute, Hakim Ziyech's thunderous half-volley crashing back off Mike Maignan's right-hand post.

It did not have to wait long to go ahead, though, as an unmarked Promes met Tagliafico's deep cross with a powerful header just four minutes later.

Lille responded well to that early setback and should have pulled level moments before the interval. Jonathan Bamba picked out Jonathan Ikone after a surging run down the left but Andre Onana got down well to keep out his low effort, with Victor Osimhen hooking the rebound over the crossbar.

The host looked sharp at the start of the second period, Ziyech testing Maignan low down to his left with a fierce drive.

Its positive approach was rewarded in the 50th minute when David Neres slid Alvarez in down the right after a flowing team move and the Mexican superbly lifted a shot across the Lille goalkeeper from a tight angle to double its advantage. 

Tagliafico ensured there would be no dramatic comeback from Lille when he made it 3-0 shortly after the hour mark, superbly heading home Ziyech's outswinging corner.

Yusuf Yazici crashed an effort against the post late on as Lille tried in vain to restore some respectability to a scoreline that did not flatter the host.

What does it mean? Ajax moves on from high-profile departures

It might have lost talented youngsters Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong during the close season, but Ajax looks well poised to enjoy another fruitful Champions League campaign. In Ziyech and Neres, it has two of the most exciting wide men in the tournament, who will surely give better defences that Lille's trouble this season.

ALSO READ| Ajax not sad about losing De Jong and De Ligt, says Tadic

Ziyech continues to sparkle

Only Lionel Messi created more 'big chances' than Ziyech in last season's competition and on this evidence, it is not hard to see why. The Moroccan was outstanding and can consider himself lucky not to have got on the scoresheet.

Osimhen's misses haunt Lille

The French side was comfortably the inferior team but it might permit itself to wonder what might have been had the Nigeria international taken either of the chances that fell to him. As it was, he squandered both and was duly punished by a ruthless Ajax side.

Key Opta Facts:

- Ajax ended a run of four home Champions League matches without a win (W0 D2 L2), with this its first since a 1-0 win over Benfica in last season’s group stage.
- Lille has never won its first Champions League match of a campaign, with this being its sixth attempt (W0 D2 L4).
- Ajax midfielder Edson Alvarez became the first Mexican player to score on his Champions League debut.
- Including qualifiers, Lille is winless in 12 European matches (W0 D6 L6) since winning 2-0 against Grasshopper Zurich in a Champions League qualifier in July 2014.

What's next?

Ajax returns to Eredivisie action on Sunday against rival PSV with its next Champions League match against Valencia on October 2. Lille, meanwhile, faces Rennes in Ligue 1 at the weekend before hosting Chelsea in matchweek two.

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