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Ajax vs Rangers. UEFA Champions League Group A.

Amsterdam ArenAAttendance52,862.

Ajax 4

  • E Álvarez (17th minute)
  • S Berghuis (32nd minute)
  • M Kudus (33rd minute)
  • S Bergwijn (80th minute)

Rangers 0

    Ajax 4-0 Rangers: Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side thrashed on Champions League return

    Match report as Edson Alvarez, Steven Berghuis, Mohammed Kudus and Steven Bergwijn condemn Rangers to a tough return to the Champions League with a 4-0 defeat at Ajax, four days after losing to Celtic by the same scoreline

    Rangers' John Lundstram (R) looks dejected after his side go 3-0 down vs Ajax
    Image: Rangers were beaten 4-0 by Ajax four days after losing the Old Firm game to Celtic by the same scoreline

    Ajax ensured Rangers' return to the Champions League after a 12-year absence was a miserable one with a 4-0 thrashing in Amsterdam.

    Boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst, despite leading Rangers within two penalties of winning the Europa League last season, said they "could not compete" with their Champions League rivals as he defended his side's limp performance in the Netherlands, citing the financial gap between the two sides.

    "In the Champions League you need hundreds of millions or you can't compete," he said. "Look at Ajax - they have sold players for more than £200m this summer. Liverpool as well. For us to compete with them is too much to ask.

    "We want to compete with the squad we have, and the squad we are capable of making. We knew it was going to be tough, and that showed today."

    Quality-wise, Ajax were always likely to have the upper hand in their group-stage opener but Rangers wilted for the second time in four days in the manner of their defeat, having been thrashed by the same scoreline by Celtic in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.

    They found themselves on the back foot from the first whistle and deservedly fell a goal behind when Edson Alvarez headed in from a corner after 17 minutes.

    Ajax continued to dominate and added a second after 32 minutes when John McLaughlin was wrong-footed by James Sands' deflection on Steven Berghuis' shot. One minute and 57 seconds later it was three, as Mohammed Kudus span James Tavernier before racing forwards and hammering home a superb third to epitomise Ajax's superb first-half showing.

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    A triple substitution at half-time shored up Rangers' defence but with the three points already secured, Ajax dropped the tempo and spent much of the second 45 minutes playing keep ball.

    They did still manage to add a late fourth, though, when Steven Bergwijn intercepted Ryan Jack's poor pass before rounding McLaughlin and providing the final blow in Rangers' wretched evening in the Dutch capital.

    How Rangers' week went from bad to worse in Amsterdam

    Rangers' up-and-down league form had done nothing to affect their Europa League final run last season but there were signs from the off at the Johan Cruyff Arena that more lasting damage had been done by Saturday's 4-0 reverse at Celtic.

    Ajax's Edson Alvarez celebrates after scoring vs Rangers
    Image: Edson Alvarez nodded Ajax ahead less than a week after going on strike as he attempted to force a transfer to Chelsea

    They allowed Ajax to dominate possession from the off, but when the hosts' patient passing turned into one-touch intricate build-up, they looked nervous and fragile. Jurrien Timber took advantage of their rigid zonal marking system and wasted a glorious position to nod an early corner over.

    Rangers did not learn from that narrow escape, and soon Alvarez went one better to beat McLaughlin from eight yards when given just as much space to attack the ball. The Mexico international had gone on strike a week ago to force through an aborted move to Chelsea on Deadline Day, but was all smiles as he celebrated putting his side in front.

    Somehow, Devyne Rensch missed the chance to add a second before the half-hour when Kenneth Taylor met his perfectly timed run into the box before he blasted over, but Ajax would soon have their cushion as Berghuis' effort was stabbed past McLaughlin by the unfortunate Sands.

    Less than two minutes later, more half-hearted Rangers defending gave Kudus the opportunity to run at the visiting defence, although his emphatic finish from a near-impossible angle was all of his own doing.

    Captain Tavernier was one of three to be sacrificed at half-time by Giovanni van Bronckhorst as he switched to a back five in the hope of stifling the gaps Ajax had taken full advantage of. It appeared to work, although Ajax's own contentment to slow down the pace of the game played its own part.

    The visitors thought they had at least chalked up a consolation with a rare shot on target late on as Borna Barisic, given a torrid evening by Dusan Tadic, bent in a gorgeous curler from the edge of the area, only for VAR to overturn the goal for offside against Ryan Kent in the build-up.

    If that did not sum up Rangers' awful evening, Ajax's fourth certainly did as Jack's ill-judged pass back to Conor Goldson was pounced on by Bergwijn, who rounded McLaughlin to slot home before injuring himself in his celebration.

    Although facing a team of undoubted quality, the manner in which Rangers were outclassed would prove just as troubling as their reverse at Celtic Park on Saturday, and already ramps up the pressure on next week's home game with Napoli if they have any hopes of progressing beyond this stage.

    Boyd: Van Bronckhorst under pressure now

    Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd on Sky Sports News:

    "Rangers were totally outclassed here tonight against a very good Ajax team. I know that's what you get when you play at this level, but I don't see Ajax as a top-end Champions League team.

    Rangers' Ryan Jack looks dejected after his error leads to the fourth goal vs Ajax
    Image: Rangers' Ryan Jack was at fault for Ajax's fourth on a dismal night for the club

    "They're a very good team but from Rangers' point of view, they were well off it. There was a lack of responsibility at set plays, they are far too easy to play against, they are very passive and they are not getting close to anyone.

    "It's a disappointing return to the elite of European football for Rangers. Losing 4-0 at the weekend and 4-0 tonight, you go to Aberdeen at the weekend and the players are going to have to deal with the criticism that will come their way and go again on Saturday.

    "There are ways to lose football games and there are loads of Rangers players underperforming. Seven of these players started the Europa League final, you can't dine on that forever. You can be outclassed by a team, but the team looks like they're devoid of confidence and sloppy in terms of the press. It seemed half-hearted.

    "It's like the Celtic defeat and it results in managers being under pressure. That's where Van Bronckhorst will be after tonight."

    Van Bronckhorst: Players are committed, but we can't compete

    Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst on BT Sport:

    "It's difficult. You don't want to give space away against Ajax, we gave less away in the second half because we played a little bit more defensively.

    "We went too quick with our opponents who dragged players away to make space, and we should have stayed more in our zones. We didn't do that well, and as I've said before every mistake you make gets punished.

    "The performance wasn't good, the players are committed, they want to play the way we want, they want to fight and work hard. But it looks in an opponent against Ajax when you're not organised how you should be, it's going to be tough. The level we are used to and the level we have to reach in the Champions League is big.

    "James Tavernier had a knock a couple of weeks ago, he's struggling a little bit, and I think it was good for him to come off.

    "To compete in the Champions League you need hundreds of millions or you can't compete. Look at Ajax - they have sold players for more than £200m this summer. Liverpool as well. For us to compete with them is too much to ask.

    "We want to compete with the squad we have, and the squad we are capable of making. We knew it was going to be tough, and that showed today."

    Rangers' remaining Champions League fixtures

    September 13: Napoli (H) - kick-off 8pm

    October 4: Liverpool (A) - kick-off 8pm

    October 12: Liverpool (H) - kick-off 8pm

    October 26: Napoli (A) - kick-off 8pm

    November 1: Ajax (H) - kick-off 8pm

    What's next?

    Rangers return to Scottish Premiership action on Saturday as they go to Aberdeen, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 12pm.

    Live SPFL

    Ajax continue their Eredivisie title defence at home to Heerenveen on Saturday in a 5.45pm kick-off.

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