Borussia Dortmund booked their place in the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 with clinical finishing and some impressive counterattacking on Wednesday as they hammered Ajax 4-1 in Amsterdam.
Dortmund needed just a point to go through, but the German champions had the victory wrapped up with three unanswered goals by halftime as they reached the Champions League knockout phase for the first time since the 2002-2003 season.
Germany’s rising stars Marco Reus and Mario Goetze produced a dazzling display, while Poland international striker Robert Lewandowski scored either side of halftime.
Ajax striker Danny Hoesen scored a late consolation goal for the hosts, but it was all over by then.
Ajax enjoyed almost 70 percent possession throughout, while Dortmund had only five shots on target in the entire game, but managed to score from four of them as the German side stayed top of Group D on 11 points.
Real Madrid are second in the group on eight points after their 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
The best Ajax can now hope for is a Europa League place in their final game at Real Madrid in two weeks.
After Bayern Munich’s draw at Valencia on Tuesday put them through, Dortmund and Schalke 04 also joined them in the knockout stage, with all three German teams having progressed.
Ajax are nine points behind league leaders PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch league and it took just eight minutes for the German side to take the lead at Amsterdam Arena.
Goetze showed great vision to play a one-two to put national teammate Reus free in the penalty area and he fired home under the Ajax goalkeeper for his third goal of the competition.
Dortmund doubled their tally on 36 minutes when centerback Mats Hummels took advantage of some sloppy defending with a quickly taken free-kick which found Goetze on the left. He cut back inside and drove his shot inside the near post, giving goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer no chance.
Ajax winger Derk Boerrigter had a chance soon after, but Dortmund put the game beyond doubt with their third goal just four minutes before the break.
With Goetze terrorizing the hosts’ defense, the 20-year-old put in a volley which Vermeer did well to save, but Lewandowski reacted the quickest and tucked away the rebound, although Vermeer got a glove to it.
It was Lewandowski’s third of the competition as the guests handed out a lesson in counterattacking and the Poland international grabbed the fourth when he converted a Goetze cross on 67 minutes.
Hosen managed to pull one back for Ajax on 86 minutes having come off the bench, but it wrapped up a miserable night for the Dutch.
Manchester City are Dortmund’s final opponents at Signal Iduna Park stadium in two weeks.