Real too strong for Ajax
Liga giants kick off Euro campaign with easy success
By James Pearson. Last Updated: 15/09/10 9:54pm
Higuain: Second-half goal
Real Madrid kicked-off their UEFA Champions League campaign under Jose Mourinho's tenure with a comfortable 2-0 success over Ajax.
Vurnon Anita's first half own goal was the difference between the sides for much of the contest and despite numerous shots and chances, Real needed a 77th-minute close-range second from Gonzalo Higuain to make sure of the points.
Real Madrid are now level with AC Milan in Champions League Group G after the Italians got the better of Auxerre 2-0 at the San Siro on Tuesday evening.
Real started positively and set the early running, although Ajax were holding their shape well in an attempt to stifle their opponents' illustrious attacking line-up.
Andre Ooijer produced a fine tackle on summer signing Mesut Ozil while Sami Khedira's shot from the edge of the penalty area was saved by visiting keeper Maarten Stekelenburg following a neat pass from Ozil.
Ajax's Demy de Zeeuw was the first player in Slovenian referee Damir Skomina's notebook for a needless challenge from behind on Brazilian wingback Marcelo.
The visitors produced a rare first-half attack with quarter of an hour played, although Miralem Sulejmani's left-footed shot was never seriously troubling Real keeper Iker Casillas.
Just when it looked like they might have weather the storm Real hit back and were unlucky not to get their noses in front when Marcelo ghosted past his would-be marker only to see his effort crash off the crossbar.
Real continued to set the running and Angel Di Maria twice tested Stekelenburg, but the Dutch shot-stopper came out on top on both occasions.
Some fine defending from Gregory van der Wiel denied Cristiano Ronaldo while Di Maria felt he could have been awarded a penalty after going down under a challenge from Stekelenburg.
Just when it looked like it could become a frustrating night for Real they forged ahead when Higuain turned home Xabi Alonso's inswinging corner, although Vurnon Anita got the final touch.
They could and should have doubled their lead moments later but Higuain missed Marcelo's cross completely while Di Maria at the back post could only send his effort off the crossbar.
The home side continued to pepper Stekelenburg's goal before half-time through shots from Ronaldo and Di Maria, but the scoreboard operator remained untroubled.
Real began the second half where they left off - on the front foot.
Firstly Higuain's left-footed short following a direct run was saved and he blazed over soon after initially controlling the ball with his chest.
Higuain was becoming more and more wasteful in front of goal and he should really have done better after picking up the ball towards the back post after Stekelenburg could only parry Di Maria's blistering drive.
Ajax had half a chance to level matters when Pepe conceded a free-kick on the edge of Real's penalty area for a handball, but Toby Alderweireld's set-piece effort was poor and wide of the wall.
The points were finally confirmed in the 73rd minute when Ozil crossed for the unmarked Higuain to turn the ball home from close range after his initial shot was superbly saved by Stekelenburg.
Ajax finally showed signs of life sooner after when Urby Emanuelson's floated shot crashed off the crossbar. Sulejmani collected the rebound, but Iker Casillas was equal to the save to keep the visitors at bay.
Real should have added a third late on, but Ronaldo, who had shots galore during the contest, somehow failed to make any contact in front of an unguarded net from Higuain's cross.Both managers made changes in the closing stages, but it mattered little to the result as Real ran out comfortable winners in Mourinho's first Champions League game in charge at Santiago Bernabeu.
|Real Madrid||Team Statistics||Ajax|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|14||Shots on Target||1|
|16||Shots off Target||7|
UEFA Champions League
Wed 15th Sep - Group E
Bay Munich2 - 0Roma
Cluj2 - 1Basel
Wed 15th Sep - Group F
Marseille0 - 1Spartak Mos
Zilina1 - 4Chelsea
Wed 15th Sep - Group G
R Madrid2 - 0Ajax
AC Milan2 - 0Auxerre
Wed 15th Sep - Group H
Arsenal6 - 0Braga
Shak Donetsk1 - 0Partizan
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H