Three second-half goals condemned AEK to a 3-0 loss at Ajax in the Greek champion’s opening night in the Champions League on Wednesday.
AEK’s unbeaten run of 14 games in Europe came to a resounding end as the Athens team generally got what it deserved, particularly in the second half at Amsterdam.
With no Marko Livaja, Tasos Bakasetas or Helder Lopes, AEK coach Marinos Ouzounidis had some holes to plug and seemed to opt for a low-risk game that appeared to bear fruit by half-time, with the game still scoreless.
However a disastrous start to the second half saw Argentine left-back Nicolas Tagliafico open the score for Ajax in what was his first ever Champions League.
AEK was pegged back, felt the Dutch putting more and more pressure on it, and was unable to respond or even make a decent counter attack.
Goal #2 was always coming for Ajax, and it materialized 13 minutes from time by Donny Van de Beek, as AEK’s defense was falling apart.
Ajax then appeared to take it easy for the rest of the game, but as has been the pattern so far this season with AEK, the champion’s performance dipped considerably as the time went on: Tagliafico was allowed to run free from the left and try a cross that ended up straight into the AEK net for the night’s most spectacular goal, in injury time.
In its next game AEK is hosting Benfica at the Olympic Stadium of Athens on October 2. AEK needs all three points from this game to maintain any hope of progress in the competition.