Sunday, December 8, 2019

Ajax star Ziyech eases injury fears after Lille masterclass

SoccerNews in Eredivisie 27 Nov 2019

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Ajax and Morocco favourite Hakim Ziyech does not believe the arm injury he sustained during the closing stages of Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Lille is serious.

Erik ten Hag’s side moved to the top of Champions League Group H with a match to play after a superb display at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, where Ziyech crowned a brilliant team move to open the scoring inside two minutes.

He turned provider with an inch-perfect cross to set up Quincy Promes after half-time and also had a goal disallowed for handball after a VAR review.

That incident appeared to discomfort Ziyech before he made way in the 85th minute, but the 26-year-old offered an upbeat assessment when he spoke to Veronica TV after the match.

“My arm is still sore and is difficult to lift it up. I’ll just have to see how it goes,” he said.

“I banged it into the defender, and I also got the ball smashed into it, but it should be okay.”

On Ajax’s performance, Ziyech added: “What a great start, because our first attack resulted in a goal. But after that we got a bit sloppy.

“They were playing a long-ball game, and their centre forward was causing us some problems.

“But they only had a couple of big chances and otherwise we controlled the game. We definitely deserved to win.

“I know where Quincy is going, and I try to put in crosses that are impossible to defend against. And his finish was also fantastic.

“We know each other so well. We don’t even need to talk to each other on the pitch. We’ll go out to win the final game, that’s why we play football.”

Qualification is now firmly in Ajax’s hands when they host Valencia next month, the Eredivisie leaders boasting 10 points to the LaLiga outfit’s eight.

Los Che battled to a thrilling 2-2 draw against Chelsea – who are also on eight points and next face a Lille side with only pride to play for.

“Unfortunately we didn’t score when we were on top,” said Lille head coach Christophe Galtier, who saw Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone miss glorious chances either side of half-time.   

“In all five games, we’ve lacked a clinical streak and in this beautiful but cruel competition we were punished for it.”

Those openings were noted as a cause for concern by Ajax boss Ten Hag.

“We defended rather well but we gave them too many chances by allowing them too much space in which to play,” he said, as quoted by UEFA.com.

“It’s something we still need to work on. Otherwise, it was a fully deserved win. We scored two great goals and could have had more.

“The win reflects our domination, even though our opponents had opportunities, which is normal at this level. We were almost perfect tactically.”

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