A clinical display of finishing from AFC Ajax has put the Eredivisie outfit on the brink of a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 after inflicting RSC Anderlecht's first defeat by Dutch opposition.
The outcome could have been different had Marcin Wasilewski − in one of several opportunities wasted by the hosts − not missed a 55th-minute penalty. By that time Anderlecht were trailing to a first-half header from Toby Alderweireld, Ajax's Belgian international defender, who set Christian Eriksen away for the second on 59 minutes. Mounir El Hamdaoui added a third eight minutes later, leaving Anderlecht with a mountain to climb in next week's return.
The hosts' first opening came on four minutes, when Maarten Stekelenburg smothered at the feet of Romelu Lukaku; he did similar to deny Kanu. In between the visitors had threatened through El Hamdaoui, whose shot spun wide, but they were fortunate not to be behind after Matías Suárez wriggled his way down the right and teed up Kanu.
His shot was blocked by Daley Blind, a miss that proved costly 12 minutes later as the unmarked Alderweireld headed in Eriksen's corner. Ariël Jacobs's team responded with Mbark Boussoufa drawing a sharp near-post save from Stekelenburg and after the restart Guillaume Gillet glanced Suárez's centre wide. Moments later, Wasilewski cleared the crossbar from the spot after Eyong Enoh had tripped Boussoufa.
With the wind taken from their sails, the Belgian league leaders were carved open twice in quick succession. Eriksen showed Les Mauves et Blancs the way to goal just before the hour, finishing neatly after evading the challenge of goalkeeper Silvio Proto. The precocious Danish international then played in El Hamdaoui for a neatly dispatched third.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.