Young gun Gravenberch scores as Ajax beats Midtjylland 3-1

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Ryan Gravenberch scored a memorable first Champions League goal as Ajax dominated Midtjylland in a 3-1 win on Wednesday at the empty Johan Cruyff Arena.

The win moved Ajax to second in Group D, ahead of Atalanta on goal difference. Atalanta beat group leader Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield.

Ajax had lost four of its last five Champions League home matches and Erik ten Hag’s forwards squandered a string of chances in the first half as they dominated possession. The 18-year-old midfielder Gravenberch showed them how to finish less than two minutes after the break with a curling shot that hit the underside of the bar on its way into the goal.

Gravenberch told Dutch broadcaster SBS6 he was glad to see the ball sail into the net. “Mostly when I shoot it goes over,” he said with a smile.

Right back Noussair Mazraoui doubled the lead two minutes later, running onto a pass by Dusan Tadic and beating goalkeeper Jesper Hansen at his near post. Brazil winger David Neres made it 3-0 in the 66th minute with a low shot past Hansen.

Awer Mabil pulled a goal back for the visitors from the penalty spot in the 81st minute after being fouled by Mazraoui.

The match was preceded by a minute’s silence in honor of Diego Maradona.

Before the break, Lassina Traore fired wildly over the bar twice from close range and saw the ball hit the bar after he curled a shot over Hansen. Zakaria Labyad also failed to capitalize on good scoring chances, shooting tamely in the 10th minute and placing a shot too close to Hansen five minutes later allowing the keeper to make a good save.

Liverpool leads the group with nine points, ahead of Ajax and Atalanta on seven.

The defeat left Midtjylland stuck at the bottom of the group and still searching for its first Champions League victory.

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