Amsterdam, May 4 (IANS) Ajax took a big step in their quest for a first European title in 21 years, thrashing Olympique Lyon 4-1 in the first leg of their Europa League football semi-final here.
Bertrand Traore was the dominant figure for the Dutch side, scoring two goals and assisting on a third here on Wednesday night, reports Efe.
Lyon looked more comfortable in the first 20 minutes of the contest in front of nearly 50,000 spectators at a packed Amsterdam Arena.
The visitors’ good start led to one quality chance, a Maxwel Cornet shot that forced a fine stop by Ajax goalkeeper Andre Oanana.
Cornet’s strike seemed to rouse the hosts, who were soon pinning Lyon in their own end and took the lead in the 25th minute as Traore scored off a free kick by Hakim Ziyech.
Ajax made it 2-0 nine minutes later. Traore won the ball after a poor clearance by Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes and forward Kaspar Dolberg converted from point-blank range.
Lyon dominated possession for the balance of the first half, but without posing any threat to their opponent’s goal.
The hosts added to their lead just four minutes into the second half, when Ziyech stole the ball at midfield and delivered it to Amin Younes, who beat Lopes from inside the area.
Lyon’s Malgre Diakhaby quickly swept the ball away, but the line judge confirmed that it had crossed the line and the scoreboard moved to 3-0.
The French side reacted and started generating chances.
Mathieu Valbuena scored for Lyon in the 66th minute and Nabil Fekir wasted a great chance to cut the lead to 3-2.
Instead, it was Traore who sealed the outcome with a goal for Ajax in the 71st.