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Sublime Soriano steers Salzburg to victory

AFC Ajax 0-3 FC Salzburg
Roger Schmidt's men prised open the door to the UEFA Europa League round of 16 after Jonatan Soriano inspired them to a stunning win.

Sublime Soriano steers Salzburg to victory
Sublime Soriano steers Salzburg to victory ©UEFA.com

FC Salzburg dispatched AFC Ajax 3-0 thanks to a spellbinding first-half display which included a sublime goal from Jonatan Soriano.

The Austrian title holders started this UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg at a blistering tempo and struck three times without reply inside the opening period. Soriano converted a penalty after Jöel Veltman had fouled Alan, seven minutes before Sadio Mané made no mistake when one-on-one with Jasper Cillessen. Soriano then stole the show by firing over the stranded Ajax keeper from close to the halfway line.

The visitors wasted little time in taking a firm grip on proceedings in Amsterdam, André Ramalho volleying high and wide after a well-worked free-kick found him unmarked inside the box. The breakthrough Salzburg's adventurous play merited was not long in coming, however. Veltman tripped Alan as he cut inside from the left and Soriano calmly sent Cillessen the wrong way from the spot. Things quickly got worse for Frank de Boer's side when Kevin Kampl executed an exquisite through pass for Mané, who rounded the keeper and rolled the ball into an empty net.

A third goal soon arrived – one which surely even the Ajax coach could not help but appreciate. Collecting possession inside the centre circle, captain Soriano magnificently directed the ball over Cillessen from 50 metres. The Austrian team continued to run the show after the restart, Alan and Kampl twice blazing wide from good positions. The latter also stumbled when through on goal, while Alan's lob was centimetres too high.

A familiar pattern followed, with almost every loose ball being won by someone in a blue shirt, while Ajax struggled to register a meaningful effort on target. Unless something bordering on a miracle takes place in Salzburg next week, the return leg would appear to be a formality for Roger Schmidt's men.

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