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UEFA Champions League

Amsterdam Arena (ATT 42,000) 22nd November 2005 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: V Ivanov

Ajax Ajax vs Sparta Prague Sp Prague

Ajax 2

ft

Sp Prague 1

Ajax ease through

By Alex Livie.   Last Updated: 22/11/05 9:30pm

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Ajax booked their ticket to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League with a comfortable 2-1 win over a disappointing Sparta Prague side.

Danny Blind's Ajax may be in a period of transition, but they still proved far too classy for the Czechs with the only surprise being that they only claimed victory thanks to two goals from substitute Nigel de Jong.

The Dutch outfit produced a slick display of controlled football and goals on 68 and 88 minutes from substitute de Jong sealed victory.

Ajax switched off in injury time and Martin Petras stabbed home from a corner but it proved nothing more than a consolation.

Blind can now plan for the knockout stage after Christmas, but he will need to conjure up a cutting edge if his side are to make an impact.

Ajax were the dominant force in the first meeting between the two sides and the pattern continued at the Amsterdam ArenA, as the Dutch side's impressive young midfield controlled the play.

South African star Steve Pienaar is playing for his future, with the midfielder out of contract next summer, and his impressive wing play was one of the highlights of the opening 45 minutes. The youngster was always available and delivered a number of teasing crosses from the right.

Wesley Sneijder is the heartbeat of the Ajax side and he was the main attacking threat, although he failed to find his range in the first half. Jaromir Blazek twice made low saves to deny the Dutch international, while his third effort curled just over the bar.

Sneijder may carry a goal threat, but he also has a creative side and the midfielder produced a sumptuous cross to pick out Thomas Vermaelen at the far post but he somehow headed wide from six yards.

Yannis Anastasiou and Nourdin Boukhari teamed up to slice open the Sparta defence, but the former's shot failed to do justice to the swift move.

Sparta were rarely seen as an attacking force, with two shots from Lukas Zelenka their only noteworthy efforts, but they kept the home side at arm's length in the first half.

Ajax's finishing was weak in the first half and the pattern did not change after the interval as Anastasiou lazily shot wide following an excellent cross from Boukhari.

Blind introduced de Jong at the start of the second half and he increased the home side's attacking options and came close to breaking the deadlock when firing just wide from 20 yards.

The red and white tide forced Sparta further into their shell as the second half wore on and the pressure reaped dividends 22 minutes from time as de Jong broke the deadlock.

Sneijder smashed a free kick over bar ten minutes previous and Sparta feared another shot, but the gifted midfielder outfoxed the visitors as he dinked a ball into the six-yard box and de Jong had the simple task of heading home.

Maarten Stekelenburg was a virtual spectator in the second half, but the goal prompted Sparta to emerge from their slumber and Zdenik Pospech fired out a warning when heading straight at the Ajax keeper.

Scoring goals has been a problem for Ajax this term and Zdenek Grygera and Marcus Rosenberg squandered chances in quick succession to ease the nerves in the Amsterdam ArenA.

De Jong did ease the nerves two minutes from time as he capped a fine move when slamming home from the edge of the box.

Ajax eased off the gas and Petras ensured a grandstand finish when prodding home at a corner. Sparta could have grabbed an unlikely point in injury time, but an apparent foul in the box from Urby Emanuelson went unpunished by referee Valentin Ivanov as the home side secured the three points.

Click here for Ajax v Sparta Prague player ratings

AjaxTeam StatisticsSparta Prague
2Goals1
01st Half Goals0
5Shots on Target4
13Shots off Target7
5Blocked Shots4
4Corners5
12Fouls15
1Offsides1
0Yellow Cards0
0Red Cards0
81.2Passing Success58.1
20Tackles16
95Tackles Success100
68.9Possession31.1
51.7Territorial Advantage48.3

Matches

Tables

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UEFA Champions League
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1 Manchester United 6 14
2 Bayer Leverkusen 6 10
3 Shakhtar Donetsk 6 8
4 Real Sociedad 6 1

UEFA Champions League Group B

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Pos Team P Pts
1 Real Madrid 6 16
2 Galatasaray 6 7
3 Juventus 6 6
4 FC Copenhagen 6 4

UEFA Champions League Group C

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Paris St Germain 6 13
2 Olympiakos FC 6 10
3 Benfica 6 10
4 Anderlecht 6 1

UEFA Champions League Group D

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bayern Munich 6 15
2 Manchester City 6 15
3 FC Viktoria Plzen 6 3
4 CSKA Moscow 6 3

UEFA Champions League Group E

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 6 12
2 Schalke 6 10
3 Basel 6 8
4 FC Steaua Bucuresti 6 3

UEFA Champions League Group F

UEFA Champions League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Borussia Dortmund 6 12
2 Arsenal 6 12
3 Napoli 6 12
4 Marseille 6 0

UEFA Champions League Group G

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Pos Team P Pts
1 Atletico Madrid 6 16
2 Zenit St. Petersburg 6 6
3 FC Porto 6 5
4 Austria Vienna 6 5

UEFA Champions League Group H

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Pos Team P Pts
1 Barcelona 6 13
2 AC Milan 6 9
3 Ajax 6 8
4 Celtic 6 3

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