UEFA Champions League Review: Ajax crash out after home defeat
Ajax crashed out of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers at the third round after slipping to a 5-4 aggregate defeat to Rapid Vienna, and now face a battle to qualify for the Europa League.
Despite having two away goals in their favour after a 2-2 draw at the Ernst Happel Stadion, Ajax conceded simple goals from Rapid’s Robert Beric and Louis Schaub in the first half to squander home advantage and leave themselves with a mountain to climb in the second period.
A stunning volley from Arkadiusz Milik and a Nemanja Gudelj strike from the edge of the box levelled the tie at 4-4 on aggregate with 75 minutes played, but Schaub struck again just two minutes later, curling a fine effort into the top corner of the net to end Ajax coach Frank de Boer’s hopes of Champions League qualification.
It is the first time in six seasons that Ajax have failed to reach the group stage.
Meanwhile, Monaco cruised through to the play-offs with an emphatic 7-1 aggregate win over Young Boys.
Leonardo Jardim’s side went into the home leg of their third-round tie with a 3-1 cushion and, after a goalless first half at Stade Louis II, they put their Swiss opponents to the sword once again.
New signing Ivan Cavaleiro opened the scoring with a fine, bending shot from a tight angle, before further goals followed from Layvin Kurzawa, Anthony Martial and another new signing, Stephan El Shaarawy.
Elsewhere, Dinamo Zagreb drew 3-3 at Molde on the night and 4-4 on aggregate, but progressed to the playoffs on away goals, leaving 10-man Molde to rue two missed penalties in the first half.
APOEL, meanwhile, lost 1-0 at home to FC Midtjylland in a tie that finished 2-2 on aggregate and saw the Cypriots go through to the play-offs on the strength of the two away goals they scored in the first leg.