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Ajax thrash APOEL to finish third in Group F

AFC Ajax 4-0 APOEL FC
Lasse Schöne, Davy Klaassen and Arkadiusz Milik found the net as Ajax beat APOEL in the race for third place and a UEFA Europa League spot.

Lasse Schöne's successful penalty is the last kick of the first half
Schöne again, Davy Klaassen and Arkadiusz Milik on target after the break
Ajax record their first victory in this season's UEFA Champions League
The 4-0 result equals their record winning margin in the UEFA Champions League
Frank de Boer's side progress to the UEFA Europa League round of 32; APOEL out of Europe
The round of 16 draw takes place in Nyon at 12.00CET on 15 December

AFC Ajax secured a berth in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 with a 4-0 victory over APOEL FC in the battle for third place in UEFA Champions League Group F.

As expected the visitors sat deep and waited for the chance to spring a counterattack. The ploy worked insofar as Ajax failed to find a way through the well-drilled APOEL rearguard until the very last kick of the first half, when Lasse Schöne converted a penalty after Arkadiusz Milik was tripped in the box. It was a more assertive display from the hosts after the restart, with Schöne, Davy Klaassen and Milik all scoring in what turned out to be a routine success in Amsterdam.

Ricardo van Rhijn curled a fine early effort narrowly over as Ajax made their attacking intentions clear. Yet the Cypriot title holders were always ready to pounce, and George Efrem forced a corner and then had a wayward long-range shot from two breakaway attacks. Back came the Eredivisie team, Ricardo Kishna firing in a superb cross from the left only for Milik to dive low and head against Urko Pardo's legs.

The complexion of the Group F match changed on the stroke of half-time. Marios Antoniades tripped Milik as he bore down on goal and Schöne stroked the resultant spot kick just beyond Pardo's outstretched fingers. It was the same two Ajax players who put the game out of APOEL's reach directly after the restart. Schöne fed his Polish striking partner and when Milik's shot was blocked the Denmark forward was on hand to slide in the loose ball.

Almost immediately a fine individual action from Kishna ended in a cross which Klaassen gleefully nodded home. Joël Veltman should have made it four from yet another excellent Kishna delivery but his back-post header was fractionally too high.

The Dutch champions continued to dominate and Pardo saved well from Kishna after good build-up play by Thulani Serero. It was therefore no surprise when Klaassen supplied Milik to register his first-ever goal in UEFA club competition.

Frank de Boer's side now have the prospect of a UEFA Europa League campaign to look forward to in 2015. For Giorgos Donis's APOEL, there is the consolation of having gained invaluable experience against some of the world's best players these past six matchdays.