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Ajax return to Champions League

Published: Monday 28 May 2007, 0.20CET
AFC Ajax turned on the style in Amsterdam to defeat AZ Alkmaar 3-0, and 4-2 on aggregate, in their play-off to book a UEFA Champions League qualifying spot.
by Berend Scholten

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Published: Monday 28 May 2007, 0.20CET

Ajax return to Champions League

AFC Ajax turned on the style in Amsterdam to defeat AZ Alkmaar 3-0, and 4-2 on aggregate, in their play-off to book a UEFA Champions League qualifying spot.

AFC Ajax won the Dutch UEFA Champions League play-off tie for the second season running as a 3-0 victory against AZ Alkmaar in Amsterdam earned them a 4-2 aggregate win.

Slow start
Ajax overhauled a 2-1 first-leg deficit and now progress to this summer's third qualifying round. The home side started quietly but became more effective after the half-hour when Nicolae Mitea was replaced by Tom De Mul, who caused problems for the AZ defence with his speed. Nevertheless, it was Shota Arveladze who went closest to opening the scoring for AZ when his effort hit the crossbar.

Ajax strike
The first goal came ten minutes into the second half when John Heitinga was left unmarked in the area from a Kenneth Perez free-kick and he did not pass up the opportunity. The unfortunate Ryan Donk deflected a De Mul cross into his own net to make it 2-0 two minutes later and Gabri wrapped up the scoring with a minute to go, making the most of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's assist.

København memories
Having earned a return to UEFA Champions League qualifying, Ajax will hope to do better than last season when they fell to FC København to miss out on the group stage. AZ, meanwhile, will start in the UEFA Cup for the fourth season in a row, some consolation for Louis van Gaal and his side after they missed out on the Eredivisie crown on the final day the season to PSV Eindhoven before succumbing to Ajax on penalties in the Dutch Cup final.

Last updated: 28/05/07 11.26CET

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