Hauge strikes as Milan edge 10-man Sparta

Davy Klaassen brace gives Ajax upper hand over Schalke

14/04/2017

Ajax are in pole position to reach the semifinals of the Europa League after claiming a dominant 2-0 victory over Schalke in the first leg of their last-eight clash.

Peter Bosz's young side will feel aggrieved they only had two goals, both scored by captain Davy Klaassen, to show for their excellent performance.

Ajax threatened as early as the fourth minute when Nick Viergever's acrobatic volley flew high and wide of the Schalke goal.

Ralf Fahrmann was first called into action into the 12th minute by a well-struck low volley from outside the box by Donny van de Beek, which the keeper gratefully gathered at the second attempt.

Eleven minutes later the hosts took the lead. The left-hand channel was a productive area and Amin Younes' run into the box was halted illegally by Alessandro Schopf.

Klaassen stepped up to take the penalty and drilled it into the top corner, giving Fahrmann no chance.

They might have doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark. Davinson Sanchez was agonisingly close to turning in a cross by Klaassen and then, when the ball was sent back in, Sanchez and Nabil Bentaleb both challenged for it.

It was the defender who got the final touch and it needed a fingertip save from Fahrmann onto the bar to prevent an own goal.

Schalke did not manage their first attempt on target until the final moments of the half but Benedikt Howedes' shot was comfortably saved by Andre Onana.

Ajax were forced into a change for the second half with Matthijs de Ligt replacing Daley Sinkgraven, who had struggled since an early challenge.

But it did not disrupt their momentum and Klaassen scored a second in the 52nd minute.

Justin Kluivert, the 17-year-old son of former Ajax star Patrick, was the architect and his cross from the right was confidently swept home by the captain.

Fahrmann then produced two fine blocks to deny Bertrand Traore as Ajax threatened to put the tie to bed.

The Schalke keeper was rapidly becoming his side's hero and another flowing Ajax move ended with Fahrmann denying Younes.

Younes tried his luck again in the 76th minute but with the same outcome, and the best was yet to come from Fahrmann as, from the resulting corner, he tipped Van de Beek's fierce shot onto the bar.

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