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Ajax through in third despite Madrid defeat

Real Madrid CF 4-1 AFC Ajax
The Dutch side moved into the UEFA Europa League despite another heavy defeat in Spain, José Callejón scoring twice for section runners-up Madrid.

Ajax through in third despite Madrid defeat
Ajax through in third despite Madrid defeat ©UEFA.com

Real Madrid CF finished their UEFA Champions League Group D campaign with a flourish as José Callejón scored twice against an AFC Ajax side who now move into the UEFA Europa League.

With José Mourinho's team already knowing they would come second to Borussia Dortmund, Ajax might have harboured hopes of improving on a run of five successive defeats by Madrid, in which they had conceded 16 goals. Such aspirations were dashed within 13 minutes as Cristiano Ronaldo put Madrid ahead, Callejón adding two more either side of a fine Kaká strike to leave Ajax with only Derk Boerrigter's consolation – although Manchester City FC's loss in Dortmund means their European campaign will continue in the spring.

Almost a year ago to the day Madrid visited Amsterdam having already secured their last-16 place, yet still ran out 3-0 winners. The hosts again took the game to their opponents, the excellent Luka Modrić testing his passing range with a ball that Fábio Coentrão crashed against the upright.

That move set the tone and the first goal soon followed as a determined Modrić stole possession from Ajax captain Siem de Jong and picked out Karim Benzema on the right. The French international's control took him away from goal but he quickly adjusted to slide a pass across for Ronaldo to thump in.

Already Ajax's losing streak against Madrid showed no signs of ending as the Merengues poured forward. Visiting goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer had to beat out a Benzema effort before clawing away Ronaldo's swerving free-kick.

Despite featuring six changes from matchday five, Madrid displayed the same attacking ambition and doubled their advantage in the 28th minute. Again Modrić was at the heart of a well-worked move, spinning and sending a lofted pass over the head of Niklas Moisander and on to Callejón's outstretched boot for a shot that flew in off the upright.

Four minutes into the second half it was 3-0, captain-for-the-night Kaká collecting a Ronaldo through ball to curl a shot just inside Vermeer's right-hand post. That sparked Ajax into life and they reduced the deficit when Antonio Adán – in for Iker Casillas – raced off his line to meet Daley Blind's flighted pass but punched straight to the feet of Boerrigter for an assured first-time finish.

The last word went to Madrid, however, as Callejón nodded in an Álvaro Morata cross two minutes from time to wrap up an impressive victory. Now the thoughts of both teams will turn to their respective draws on 20 December.

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