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Spartak too strong for shaky Ajax

FC Spartak Moskva 3-0 AFC Ajax (agg: 4-0)
Dmitri Kombarov, Welliton and Alex were all on target as a much-improved Spartak side cruised through to Friday's quarter-final draw.

Spartak too strong for shaky Ajax
Spartak too strong for shaky Ajax ©UEFA.com

FC Spartak Moskva are through to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after sweeping aside AFC Ajax 4-0 on aggregate.

Valeri Karpin's decision to attack rather than protect the hosts' slender 1-0 first-leg lead paid dividends as first-half strikes from Dmitri Kombarov and Welliton put them in control. Alex's fine free-kick nine minutes after the interval extinguished any Ajax ambitions of comeback.

Spartak were limited as an attacking force in Amsterdam seven days ago, yet the opportunities flowed thick and fast on home turf. Evgeni Makeev and Dmitri Kombarov went close before, on 21 minutes, the deadlock was broken. Alex pounced on a Jan Vertonghen lapse just outside the penalty area and threatened to shoot before playing a lovely through ball to Dmitri Kombarov, who applied the finish.

Ajax had no answer to Spartak's fluid movement and direct running, and Welliton doubled the deficit on the half-hour mark. This time Gregory van der Wiel conceded possession high up the pitch and in an instant Dmitri Kombarov had galloped upfield, drawing the defence before slipping the ball to Welliton. The Brazilian scored 19 goals last season and made no mistake with a left-footed effort here.

Frank de Boer's side needed a miracle coming out for the second half but their faint hopes all but ended on 54 minutes when first-leg goalscorer Alex bent his free-kick around the wall and past Jeroen Verhoevan.

Spartak took their foot off the gas and at last Ajax started asking questions of the hosts' defence. They found Andriy Dykan in excellent form, the goalkeeper pulling off a number of good saves late on as the Red and Whites moved through to Friday's quarter-final draw.

Ajax's miserable run against Spartak continues: the Dutch side have now lost all four of the games between the sides.

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