monacoFour-time European champions Ajax have been eliminated at the third qualifying round stage of theChampions League after a humiliating 3-2 second-leg defeat to Rapid Vienna on Tuesday as Monaco advanced with a 4-0 win over Swiss side Young Boys.

After a 2-2 first-leg draw in the Austrian capital last week, Ajax were strong favourites to progress to the play-off round, but they suffered a torturous night at the Amsterdam Arena.

Frank de Boer’s men let a two-goal lead slip at the Ersnt-Happel Stadion last week and the visitors — seemingly buoyed by that comeback — started where they left off last week.

Slovenian international Robert Beric — the scorer of Rapid’s equaliser in the first leg — tormented Ajax again as he put the Austrian side in front after 12 minutes before Louis Schaub doubled their lead before half-time.

Ajax, who had reached the group stages in each of the last four seasons, hauled themselves back into the match and levelled the aggregate scores at 4-4 thanks to goals by Polish international Arkadiusz Milik and Serbian midfielder Nemanja Gudelj.

But just as the tie seemed set for extra time, Rapid Vienna — who last reached the Champions Leaguegroup stages in the 2005/06 season — struck a decisive blow after 77 minutes via Schaub’s second goal of the night. 

Rapid progress to the play-off round after a 5-4 aggregate victory.

– Monaco ‘took control’ –

Last season’s quarter-finalists Monaco are into the play-off round after a thumping 4-0 second-leg win over Swiss side Young Boys.

The Ligue 1 side — who reached the 2004 final where they were beaten by Portuguese giants Porto — were already 3-1 up from last week’s first leg in Bern and finished the job handsomely at the Stade Louis II thanks to a blistering second-half display.

“I liked our performance. We managed to put our game plan into practice – to contain the opposition at first, then counter-attack after we scored the first goal,” said Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim. 

“We took control of the game. The first half was very good from a strategic perspective. Our goal was to not concede before half-time and force our opponent to attack. That’s exactly what happened.”

Young Boys, who were semi-finalists of the European Cup back in 1958/59, retained some hope of getting back into the tie with the second leg goalless at half-time.

But Monaco — third in Ligue 1 last season — struck four times in 23 devastating second-half minutes to inflict a crushing 7-1 aggregate defeat on the Swiss capital club.

Ivan Cavaleiro — a big-money summer arrival from Portuguese champions Benfica — curled in a superb opener after 54 minutes before further goals from Layvin Kurzawa, Anthony Martial and another new signing Stephan El Shaarawy saw Monaco run riot. 

Meanwhile, Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb survived a thrilling comeback by Norwegian side Molde to progress on away goals after a 3-3 second-leg draw.

With the tie level after a 1-1 draw in Zagreb last week, the visitors looked to be out of sight after scoring three goals in the opening 22 minutes at the Molde Stadion.

The Norwegian champions — who missed two penalties and had Vegard Forren sent off — hit back with three second-half goals to leave Zagreb hanging on, but the hosts couldn’t get the fourth goal that would have put them through at the visitors’ expense.

Cyriot champions APOEL remain on course for a second successive appearance in the group stages despite a 1-0 second-leg loss to Danish champions FC Midtjylland in scorching heat in Nicosia.

In temperatures of 35 degrees celsius, the Cypriots — who played for an hour with ten men after Vinicius’ straight red card — were beaten by Erik Sviatchenko’s early goal but progressed on away goals after a 2-1 first-leg success last week. – Agence France-Presse

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