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Rediff.com  » Sports » Arsenal beat Ajax to stay top of Group B

Arsenal beat Ajax to stay top of Group B

September 28, 2005 07:24 IST

Fredrik Ljungberg and Robert Pires inspired Arsenal to a 2-1 win at Ajax Amsterdam which kept the Londoners top of Champions League Group B on Tuesday.

Ljungberg opened the scoring in the second minute before Pires hit the second goal from the penalty spot.

Markus Rosenberg pulled one back for the home side with 19 minutes to go.

Arsenal have six points from two matches, three more than Thun, who beat Sparta Prague 1-0. Ajax are third with one point.

"This is good for the confidence of the team especially because we missed several offensive players and still scored two goals away from home," said Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger.

"The experience of Pires and Ljungberg was important because just like Ajax we played with a young team tonight. That is why I started with Pires even though he was not completely fit."

The visitors were minus the injured Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Gilberto Silva while Jens Lehmann and Robin van Persie were suspended.

But it did not stop Arsenal making a dream start, grabbing their 100th Champions League goal after only 79 seconds.

Mathieu Flamini robbed Nourdin Boukhari and handed Jose Antonio Reyes the opportunity to set up Ljungberg, who lifted the ball over Ajax goalkeeper Hans Vonk from close range.

LONG-RANGE STRIKE

Ajax were without injured defenders Hedwiges Maduro and Hatem Trabelsi while in-form playmaker Wesley Sneijder was sidelined by a hamstring problem.

The home side went close when a long-range strike from Boukhari bounced back off Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia in the 27th minute.

Boukhari also helped create an open goal in first-half injury time but Steven Pienaar shot over.

Ajax put Arsenal under pressure in the second period and set up several scoring chances.

Vonk, however, brought down Reyes in the 69th minute and Pires made it 2-0 from the spot.

Ajax striker Angelos Haristeas was forced off with an eye wound after he clashed with Arsenal defender Kolo Toure, who finished the match with a bandage around his head.

Swede Rosenberg replaced Haristeas and he gave Ajax hope when he scored from close range after a 30-metre drive from Tomas Galasek bounced back off the post.

Rosenberg also came close to a second goal near the end while Vonk was forced into a good save from Reyes.

"We made a good start and controlled the game with good teamwork and good organisation," said Wenger.

"In the second half Ajax played more football and had some chances but we also created some good chances by making profit of the space they left."

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