AFC Ajax have reached the Dutch play-off final for a UEFA Champions League qualifying round place for the third year running after a comfortable win against ten-man SC Heerenveen. Leading 2-1 from the first leg, Adrie Koster's men eased to a 5-2 aggregate success at the Amsterdam ArenA to ensure their presence in the two-legged final against FC Twente starting at the Emmen Univé Stadium on Saturday.
If the visitors' task had seemed daunting before kick-off, it became nigh on impossible in the 38th minute when their top scorer, Michael Bradley, was sent off for a second bookable offence. Kenneth Perez opened the scoring for the Eredivisie runners-up from the penalty spot after Jeffrey Sarpong had been fouled just before half-time, and two early second-half goals effectively ended Heerenveen's challenge.
Dennis Rommedahl latched on to Sarpong's pass to score on 48 minutes before a delightful solo effort from Perez handed the hosts an unassailable advantage seven minutes later. Heerenveen, who registered a consolation through Danijel Pranjić on the hour, must now take on NAC Breda for a place in next season's UEFA Cup.
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