Ajax ended a disappointing UEFA Champions League campaign with a 3-1 win against Rangers to guarantee themselves a UEFA Europa League knockout place, while ensuring the Gers are added to the list of teams who have lost all six group stage matches.
After returning to the group stages of European football’s most prestigious competition for the first time in over 10 years, Rangers were full of optimism for this campaign. However, that positivity has disappeared with every passing defeat to be replaced with fear and trepidation, and that familiar feeling returned after just four minutes when a ball into the area was laid off to Steven Berghuis by Mohammed Kudus, and the Dutchman rolled it past the wrong-footed Alan McGregor to give Ajax an early lead. Shortly after, Rangers’ disappointing campaign was summed up when their former defender Calvin Bassey cleared Fashion Jr’s header off the line.
Both teams we aware that the next goal was going to be vital in deciding the result, and just before the half-hour mark it fell the way of the visitors when Owen Wijndal did well to keep the ball in on the byline and hooked it back to Kudus, and the Ghanaian forward’s shot took a deflection off Leon King to divert it past McGregor and ensure de Godenzonen had a two-goal HT lead.
It could have got even worse for Rangers early in the second half when Kudus thought he had scored from close range, but the linesman’s flag went up for offside. The Gers were keen to find a morale-boosting goal to end their campaign, and they were given the chance to do just that when they were awarded a penalty which James Tavernier converted to make it 2-1. However, the Dutch side had the last laugh when Francisco Conceição scored to restore the two-goal cushion and wrap up all three points.
Ajax can now look forward to European knockout football, although at a lower level, in the spring, while for Rangers it’s back to the Scottish Premiership title race with arch rivals Celtic.