Real Madrid decisively put an end to Ajax's Champions League hopes as they demolished the Dutch giants 4-0.
Ronaldo key as Real storm to commanding triumph to win group
Real Madrid decisively put an end to Ajax's UEFA Champions League campaign as they demolished the Dutch giants 4-0 on Tuesday evening.
There was an overwhelming sense of boys against men at the Amsterdam ArenA as Jose Mourinho's side ran riot over the underperforming hosts to crown themselves winners of Group G, having already secured their spot in the knockout rounds earlier this month.
After enduring a miserable night in the Dutch capital, Ajax's fate was sealed with AC Milan's 2-0 win over Auxerre in the other game of the group, which also cemented the French side's elimination and saw the Italian club advance.
Real were already home and dry when they were reduced to nine men in a controversial final few minutes which saw both Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos dismissed for time wasting after receiving bookings earlier in the game.
The double sending-off will see the duo miss Madrid's dead-rubber clash at home to Auxerre next month but return with a clean slate for the knockout rounds.
That late controversy was one of the only blemishes on a stunning Real performance, which saw Cristiano Ronaldo play a key role throughout, setting up the second goal before powering home a shot of his own and a penalty after the break to wrap up the win.
Martin Jol's side had barely got a look-in in a first-half bursting with chances for Real, with Karim Benzema finally breaking the deadlock in the 36th minute when he capitalised on a great touch from Germany star Mesut Ozil to power home from the middle of the box.
The Primera Liga side then doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time as defender Alvaro Arbeloa pounced on a rebounded Ronaldo free-kick to blaze a deflected shot past Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
The first real opportunity went to midfielder Pedro Leon, making his first start in Europe, who dithered over a well-timed pass from Ronaldo before firing it straight into the oncoming Ajax defence.
More chances followed for the visitors, with Benzema and Ronaldo both coming close in the 19th minute when the former's saved shot from a tight angle was followed up by a cheeky back-heel flick from the Portugal international which the home defence did well to block.
Eyong Enoh was handed a yellow card in the 35th minute for what the Scottish referee Craig Thomson perceived as a foul on Leon, although on closer inspection it appeared no contact was actually made.
Unfortunately for Ajax, that booking proved the key to Real's first goal, with the resulting free-kick finding Ozil in front of the net and allowing the young German to feed the waiting Benzema.
The Frenchman made the most of Ozil's superb touch to evade Stekelenburg and plant the ball firmly into the top right-hand corner.
Real did not have long to wait to double the score-line as Ronaldo's 44th-minute free-kick smashed off the Ajax wall and into the path of centre-half Arbeloa.
The Spaniard wasted no time in unleashing a powerful strike, which deflected slightly off home striker Mounir El Hamdaoui before landing decisively in the bottom-right corner to keep the visitors firmly ahead at the break.
Ronaldo's first goal was overdue and well-deserved as he made it 3-0 in the 70th minute, powering home from a tight angle from the left of the woodwork following a great Arbeloa run.
The star forward then wrapped up the triumph as he coolly lifted a penalty over Stekelenburg nine minutes from time following an Urby Emanuelson foul on Ozil in the area.
But Real's victory was arguably tainted in the dying minutes as previously booked Alonso and Ramos earned themselves second yellow cards for time wasting and were both dismissed within minutes of each other to end an otherwise thrilling clash on a sour note.
|1st Half Goals
|Shots on Target
|Shots off Target