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3-min read

Real Madrid ease past Ajax 3-0 to top CL group

Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka led Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.

test sharma | Associated Press

Updated:September 28, 2011, 3:25 AM IST
Real Madrid ease past Ajax 3-0 to top CL group
Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka led Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka led Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday as the Spanish team stayed top of Group D with its second straight victory.

Ajax carried the initiative until Cristiano Ronaldo swung the game in Madrid's favor with his 25th-minute opener at Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

Kaka - making a rare start - doubled Madrid's lead before half-time and set up Karim Benzema to decide the game early in the second half.

Madrid have outscored the Dutch champions 9-0 in three meetings in the last two seasons.

Madrid have six points after two games, while Ajax has one. Lyon have four points after a 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb, who are last with zero points.

"A good victory. We have put ourselves in a strong position in the group," Kaka said. "Let's see if we can continue in this line and get through the group stage soon."

Assistant coach Aitor Karanka directed Madrid as Jose Mourinho served the final game of his three-match ban for alleging UEFA referees favored Barcelona in Madrid's loss to the eventual champions during last season's ill-tempered semi-final.

But before handing over his team to Karanka, Mourinho reshuffled his starting 11 after his team's recent irregular play, sitting winger Angel Di Maria on the bench and picking Kaka alongside fellow playmaker Mesut Oezil.

Eighteen-year-old Raphael Varane got his third consecutive start in defence in place of the injured Pepe, alongside Ricardo Carvalho, who returned to the pitch after a concussion sidelined the veteran center-back for one match.

Ajax stayed true to their traditional attacking style and dominated the first 15 minutes as their pressure disrupted Madrid and created a number of scoring chances.

Forward Derk Boerrigter almost surprised Madrid in the first minute with low strike from the edge of the area that Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas did well to save.

Benzema missed a clear chance in Madrid's first attack in the 17th, but the nine-time champions had found their flow and Ronaldo soon grabbed the opener in the 25th.

Ronaldo started and finished off a precision counter-attack of one-touch passes between Oezil and Benzema that left the Portugal forward striding alone into the area to volley home.

Ajax coach Frank de Boer said his team's inexperience was behind the loss.

"We had the game under control, but they scored on the counter-attack. We have to be smarter and better organized in these situations," the former Barcelona defender said. "I think we deserved a goal. That will give us confidence going forward."

Having taken the lead, Madrid shored up their defence and four minutes before half-time Kaka received a pass from Ronaldo at the top of the area, paused to pick his spot, and blasted a left-footed shot into the lower right corner of the net.

Kaka said that he feels he is finally returning to form after being slowed by injuries in recent years.

"Little by little I am showing good signs," Kaka said. "Not just this game, but I have had a stretch of recent games in which I am getting better and enjoying playing football again."

Madrid dominated possession after the restart and soon went ahead 3-0 in the 49th when Kaka penetrated from the left flank before sliding the ball over for Benzema to tap in.

Turkey midfielder Hamit Altintop came on for Madrid, making his debut with the club after recovering from back surgery following his move from Bayern Munich this summer.

Jan Vertonghen tried to snatch Ajax a late consolation goal, but Casillas stretched to save his header and keep his second clean sheet of the tournament.

In the other match on the night, Lyon beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 for their first win in Champions League Group D.

Bafetimbi Gomis put Lyon ahead with a lob in the 23rd minute and Bakary Kone flicked home a corner to double the lead in the 42nd.

"I'm very proud of my players," Lyon coach Remi Garde told French television. "We took the three points and did not concede any goals."

"Zagreb could not play like they wanted because my team made a lot of defensive efforts. Our attack made the difference, so it was a good evening."

Next, Lyon will meet Real on October 18 while Dinamo Zagreb will host Ajax.

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