Steven Bergwijn scores, Mohammed Kudus stars as Ajax hammer Rangers in Amsterdam in opener
It was a brutal reality check for Rangers on Wednesday evening as the Europa League runners-up were hammered 4-0 in Amsterdam by Ajax with former Tottenham Hotspur forward Steven Bergwijn scoring one as well as Edson Alvarez. The other goals came from Steven Berghuis, who scored via a deflected effort whilst Mohammed Kudus scored the other with a cracker that flew into the corner.
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Ajax ruined Rangers' return to the Champions League group stages, inflicting a painful 4-0 defeat on the Glasgow giants.
Twelve years after they least graced Europe's premier club competition, Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side were no match for Ajax who took the lead after 17 minutes through a header from Edson Alvarez and Steven Berghuis doubled the lead courtesy of a wicked deflection off James Sands just after the half-hour mark.
Within a minute the lead was extended with the goal of the match when Mohammed Kudus held off defenders to enter the left hand side of the penalty area and fire an arrow which crashed into the post and into the net.
Rangers were unfortunate to have a fine curling effort from Borna Barisic ruled out 19 minutes from time, before Steven Bergwijn extended the lead when Ryan Jack's poor ball set him free on goal to go around Jon McLaughlin and put not unfair gloss on the scoreline.
With Napoli and Liverpool the other sides in Group A, the task for Rangers will not get easier. They host the Neopolitan side at Ibrox next Tuesday.
Chastening 24 hours for the Old Firm - Celtic at least put in a half of decent football before being blown away in the second half by Real Madrid on Tuesday night, Rangers were outplayed here from the first whistle. Making the Champions League is so important for the Scottish giants to compete financially at all, but they will hope the six matches do not become a string of embarrassing reverses. Despite losing their coach in the summer and stars in the transfer window, such is the strength of the Ajax system, players seem to come into the first xi and fit so perfectly. They will certainly be no easy beats for Liverpool and Napoli. Their status, as a giant in a smaller European league punching above their weight with the wealthier clubs, is one Rangers must hope one day to emulate, but they seem a long way off it now.
Ajax's Mexican defender Edson Alvarez (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal during the first round Group A UEFA Champions League football match between Ajax Amsterdam (NED) and Rangers (SCO) at The Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amster
Image credit: Getty Images
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Mohammed Kudus (Ajax) - What a contrast for the Ghanaian forward from his Champions League debut against Liverpool, where he tore his meniscus after six minutes. He was electric at the Johan Cruyff Arena and clearly the best player on the pitch. His goal was sensational, but he could have scored an even better one in the second half when he dribbled past three players in the box before losing his footing and control of the ball. He already looks capable of following so many of his predecessors to the bigger leagues in Europe.
AMSTERDAM - (lr) Steven Berghuis of Ajax, Mohammed Kudus of Ajax, Steven Bergwijn of Ajax celebrate the 2-0 during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Ajax Amsterdam and Rangers FC at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on September 7, 2022 in Amsterdam,