Ajax’s chances of progressing to the Champions League knockout stages were ended on Wednesday as they were beaten 2-0 by Barcelona in the Amsterdam Arena.

  • By Michael Bell
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barxaajachNothing but a win for Ajax would have given them the slim chance of qualifying after failing to win any of their three previous ties, and they began brightly against Barcelona. Lucas Andersen sent a low shot just wide from the edge of the box, while Marc ter Stegen also had to be at full stretch to tip Davy Klaassen’s shot round the post as Ajax went on the attack.

Ajax’s defence was barely troubled by the front three of Neymar. Messi, and Luis Suarez, who was returning to the Amsterdam Arena for the first time since leaving the club, but on 36 minutes they were hit by a sucker-punch. Jasper Cillessen raced out of goal to claim a cross, but he failed, and Marc Bartra was allowed to hook the ball into the box for Lionel Messi to climb above Niklas Moisander and head into an empty net.

The goal seemed to kill Ajax’s threat and desire, and Barcelona should have doubled their lead early in the second half when Suarez was sent through one on one with Cillessen, but the goalkeeper redeemed himself with a good save.

Ajax’s chances of coming back into the game were ended on 71 minutes as Joel Veltman saw red, just like he did in the same fixture last year, for a second yellow card. Five minutes later Barcelona doubled their lead with Pedro sending the ball across the box for Messi to slide it into the net from close range.

Barcelona could not add any further goals in the remaining fifteen minutes, with Moisander making a brilliant block to deny Messi a hat-trick in the final minute of the match.

The defeat leaves Ajax seven points off 2nd place in the group and with only two games to go Frank de Boer’s side have no chance of qualifying for the next round. Ajax now need to finish third to drop into the Europa League, and they currently sit one point ahead of bottom placed APOEL who were defeated 1-0 by PSG.

Its been a hugely disappointing Champions League campaign and for the fourth year running Ajax fail to make it out of the group stages.

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