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Dortmund power past Ajax to qualify in style

Wednesday 21 November 2012 23.01 CET
Dortmund celebrate Mario Götze's strike

Borussia Dortmund clinched first place in UEFA Champions League Group D with a clinical 4-1 victory over AFC Ajax in Amsterdam.

The German champions were magnificent in the first half, scoring three without reply. Marco Reus calmly stroked home from inside the penalty area after only eight minutes. Thereafter Ajax saw more of the ball but seldom threatened, and they were made to pay dearly when Mario Götze doubled the advantage with a low finish. Robert Lewandowski added number three after Kenneth Vermeer could merely parry a Götze shot, and the Polish international capped a fine performance with his second after 67 minutes.

Substitute Daniel Hoesen's late goal was little consolation for the home team as Dortmund secured both qualification and top spot in Group D with one match remaining. For Ajax, the revised target will be to hold onto third position – and UEFA Europa League entry – ahead of Manchester City FC.

Before the hosts could establish any rhythm they fell behind to a superbly worked strike. Breaking at speed down the right flank, Reus exchanged passes with Götze before prodding the ball between Vermeer's legs. It took the Eredivisie side almost 15 minutes to muster a response, Christian Eriksen curling a shot narrowly wide of Roman Weidenfeller's goal from the edge of the box.

Jürgen Klopp's men were content to cede possession and wait for a chance to counter, and the tactic paid off after half an hour. Mats Hummels threaded a quick free-kick though to Götze wide on the left, who bamboozled Ricardo van Rhijn before drilling a low finish just inside Vermeer's near post for his first-ever UEFA Champions League goal. Things got even worse for Frank de Boer's charges five minutes later when Dortmund struck again. Götze was involved once more, volleying in a shot that Toby Alderweireld deflected. Vermeer could only palm the ball into Lewandowski's path, who finished without fuss.

Ajax restarted with a spring in their step and Eriksen soon forced Weidenfeller into his first real save of the match, the visiting custodian reaching low to block the Dane's placed shot. Substitute Lasse Schøne replaced Christian Poulsen and also had an attempt on target, but seconds later his team fell even further behind. Yet again Götze was the provider, his cross allowing Lewandowski to control expertly before rifling a low finish under the diving Vermeer. Hoesen's late effort, after good work from Eriksen, did nothing to dampen the spirits of the jubilant away support, proud to have witnessed such a superb display from their side.

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