Ajax have put themselves in a great position to reach the Europa League semi-finals after a dominant 2-0 win over Schalke in the Amsterdam Arena. 

The home side, who brought Justin Kluivert and Donny van de Beek into the starting line-up, began the game brightly with Nick Viergever volleying a Hakim Ziyech free-kick just wide.

Ajax pinned the Germans back into their own half and through Amin Younes, they were particularly dangerous on the wings. A Younes run eventually led to the opening goal with the German winger upended by Alessandro Schöpf resulting in a spot kick. Davy Klaassen emphatically smashed the penalty into the top corner to make it 1-0 Ajax.

Before the break, Ajax were unlucky not to go further ahead as Schalke keeper Ralf Fährmann was forced to tip a header from one of his own defenders onto the bar. At the other end, Schalke struggled to create any clear-cut chances and Andre Onana was only called into action once to deny a Benedikt Höwedes overhead kick.

Seven minutes into the second half, Ajax doubled their lead with a fine team move which started with Bertrand Traore who set Kluivert away on the right and the winger picked out Klaassen in the middle to fire in his second of the game.

Schalke then had Fährmann to thank for the tie not being over on the night with the goalkeeper denying Traore and Younes several times before the end, while he also tipped van de Beek’s shot onto the bar and pushed away a close range Viergever header.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar came off the Schalke bench to a warm applause from the Arena but the Dutchman couldn’t get the Germans back into the game as Ajax comfortably saw out the final stages.

It was one of Ajax’s finest European performances in years and they head to Germany in a commanding position next week with a two-goal lead and no away goal conceded. Peter Bosz will know, however, that the lead should have been much greater.

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