Dago double stuns Ajax
By Alex Livie. Last Updated: 03/11/04 9:35pm
Maccabi Tel-Aviv caused one of the biggest upsets of the season when handing out a 2-1 defeat to four time European champions Ajax.
Ajax may be in the middle of a crisis and are not the force of old but they were expected to brush aside their Israeli opponents after thrashing them in the Amsterdam ArenA last month.
However, Ajax appeared to approach the game in the wrong manner and they were made to pay for not turning their dominance into chances, as two goals by Barukh Dago condemned them to defeat - despite Daniel de Ridder setting up a tense final few minutes with a late strike.
Ajax dominated possession, as Maccabi sat deep, but they failed break down their resilient opponents.
Rafael van der Vaart had their two best early openings but he missed the target on both occasions.
Ishmael Addo was the focal point of Maccabi's attacking play and the powerful forward had a shot charged down on a rare attack for the home side.
Maccabi came within a whisker of opening the scoring on 15 minutes, but Marcio Giovanini's towering header hit a post with Maarten Stekelenburg well beaten.
Mauro Rosales was a constant menace when he received the ball at his feet and he created Ajax's best chance of the opening period when skipping past his marker and slipping in van der Vaart, but his shot was well saved by Liran Strauber.
The opening period seemed set to mirror the first, as Ajax controlled the ball, but Ronald Koeman's side were rocked on 49 minutes when Dago fired Maccabi ahead - their first goal in the UEFA Champions League.
A long ball was the undoing of Ajax, as Addo flicked the ball between Ajax defenders and Dago strode onto the ball before poking his shot past an exposed Stekelenburg.
Ajax tried to fashion a response and substitute Nourdin Boukhari picked out Wesley Sneijder, but the header did not do the cross justice.
Ajax were made to pay moments later, as a lazy back-pass by Johnny Heitinga forced Stekelenburg into a rushed clearance and it only hit Dago before flying into the unguarded net.
The second goal prompted Ajax to emerge from their slumber and van der Vaart, Wesley Sonck, Sneijder and Steven Pienaar all went close.
Ajax substitute Daniel de Ridder finally found a way past Strauber when turning home Sneijder's cross-shot with two minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish.
Sneijder was one Ajax player whose commitment could not be questioned and he almost salvaged a point in injury time, but Strauber somehow clawed his fierce drive away.
|Maccabi Tel Aviv||Team Statistics||Ajax|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||7|
|4||Shots off Target||9|
UEFA Champions League
Wed 3rd Nov - Group B
Dynamo Kiev2 - 2R Madrid
Roma1 - 1Leverkusen
Wed 3rd Nov - Group C
Mac Tel Avi2 - 1Ajax
Bay Munich0 - 1Juventus
Wed 3rd Nov - Group D
Lyon4 - 2Fenerbahce
Man Utd4 - 1Sp Prague
Wed 3rd Nov - Group A
Deportivo0 - 1Liverpool
Olympiakos1 - 0Monaco
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