Fri, May 05, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Traore nets twice as Ajax crush Lyon

AP, AMSTERDAM

Ajax’s Kasper Dolberg, right, scores against Olympique Lyonnais in their UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg at the Amsterdam Arena in the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Bertrand Traore scored two goals and created another on Wednesday as a rampant Ajax beat Olympique Lyonnais 4-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final.

Burkina Faso forward Traore, who is on loan to Ajax from Chelsea, had been in doubt before kickoff with a groin injury, but the 21-year-old showed no ill effects as the four-time European Cup winner made the most of their first European semi-final since 1996-1997.

In between his strikes, Traore lined up 19-year-old Denmark striker Kasper Dolberg to score Ajax’s second in the 34th minute and Amin Younes added the hosts’ third in the 49th minute, but Mathieu Valbuena’s away goal for Lyon in the 66th gave his team at least a faint hope of advancing from next week’s second leg in France.

Playing at the Amsterdam Arena for the first time since an announcement that the stadium is to be renamed in honor of Ajax’s greatest player, Johan Cruyff, Ajax put in a performance that would have made him proud.

Poor finishing and good goalkeeping combined to keep the score respectable for Lyon in a match featuring relentless attacking by both teams. Even the small group of French fans applauded Ajax players as they performed a lap of honor after the final whistle.

Ajax coach Peter Bosz called it a “bizarre” match that could have ended 7-3 or 8-4.

Despite a tough first 20 minutes, he was pleased that Ajax’s trademark attacking style had paid off.

“We want to win and we want to do that in an attractive way,” Bosz said. “Attack is the best form of defense.”

Lyon coach Bruno Genesio admitted after the match that it would be hard to progress to the final.

“We have to believe that it is possible, but it will be difficult, that’s a fact,” Genesio said.

Manchester United were due to play RC Celta de Vigo in Spain yesterday in the other semi-final first leg.

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