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Quickfire Ajax on verge of CL spot

LILLE, France: Ajax closed in on a Champions League last 16 spot on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) when the Dutch giants won 2-0 at Lille to open a two-point lead at the top of Group H with just one round of games to play.

Hakim Ziyech scored the fastest goal of this year’s competition inside two minutes at the French strugglers with Quincy Promes hitting his fourth of the tournament on the hour mark.

Four-time European champions Ajax have 10 points from five games, two more than Valencia and Chelsea who fought out a 2-2 draw in Spain earlier in the day.

Ajax host Valencia, who they have already defeated 3-0, in their concluding fixture next month.

“We know each other so well. We don’t even need to talk to each other on the pitch. We’ll go out to win the final game, that’s why we play football,” said Ziyech.


Coach Erik ten Hag added: “The victory is well deserved. Tactically we were almost perfect and we managed the game very well.”

Ajax were in front after just 94 seconds on Wednesday with a goal created and finished by a pair of Moroccan internationals.

Midfielder Zakaria found Donny Van de Beek who in turn picked out Dusan Tadic. The ball was then slipped to Ziyech to finish with a left-foot shot past Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan who had no chance.

Ajax had drawn 4-4 with Chelsea last time out despite having led 4-1 but they were rarely troubled by a Lille side who have just one point to show for from their five games.

Jonathan Bamba ballooned a shot over the top for the French side before Jonathan Ikone missed from only six yards early in the second half after impressive work from Nigeria star Victor Osimhen.

Ajax made them pay on the hour mark when Promes cooly converted a pass from the stylish Ziyech.

It was Promes’s fourth goal of the competition, becoming the first Ajax player to hit that mark since Patrick Kluivert scored five in the 1995-1996 group stages.

Ziyech had the ball in the net again on 77 minutes but the goal was ruled out for a handball after a VAR review. AFP

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Today’s Front Page December 10, 2019

Today’s Front Page December 10, 2019