Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag says his side needs to “play smarter” despite a resounding 3-0 win over Lille to open their 2019-20 Champions League campaign.
Last season’s beaten semi-finalists were largely in dominant mood against their Ligue 1 opponents. Quincy Promes headed them into an 18th-minute lead before Edson Alvarez scored his first goal for the club five minutes after the interval.
Nicolas Tagliafico added a third with a thumping header after 62 minutes but Lille did carve out a number of golden opportunities over the course of the 90 minutes.
While Ten Hag was delighted to start their Group H campaign with a win, he did urge his side to sharpen up.
“My players have an enormous urge to push forward,” he told Ziggo. “We have many players who want to get to the goal quickly but there are times when you have to brake and keep the ball longer.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) September 17, 2019
“Otherwise, you make the opponent stronger. From an organisational point of view, we have to play smarter.
“We sometimes want way too much and that made it an open game. We talked about it in advance because Lille are a powerful side. We want to give a final pass too quickly instead of holding the ball.”
Lille coach Christophe Galtier, meanwhile, was left to rue his side’s missed chances and pointed to Ajax’s ruthlessness as the only difference between the two teams.
“We played as we wanted to play,” he said.
“We wanted to be dangerous. The difference came in being clin
ical in the penalty areas. They were, and we weren’t. The man of the match was the Ajax goalkeeper, which shows we created chances.
“But at this level, you have to put them away and punish your opponents. We didn’t do that.”
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