LILLE, France (Reuters) – Mercurial forward Hakim Ziyech scored one goal and laid on another as Ajax secured a 2-0 victory over hosts Lille in their Champions League Group H clash on Wednesday.
Ziyech pulled the strings in attack for the Dutch side, giving his team an early lead before making the chance for the free-scoring Quincy Promes to net his 14th of the season in all competitions.
Ajax, last season’s semi-finalists, top Group H with 10 points from five matches, two ahead of Valencia and Chelsea on eight each, with Lille now eliminated in last place with a single point.
Ajax host Valencia in their final group match on Dec. 10, where a draw will be enough to secure a knockout place, while Lille travel to Chelsea.
The Dutch side made a fast start and were ahead inside two minutes when captain Dusan Tadic rolled the ball into the path of Ziyech on the edge of the box and the Morocco international steered his shot low into the back of the net.
The home side should have been level on the half-hour mark, but forward Jonathan Bamba produced a contender for miss of the season. With just Ajax keeper Andre Onana to beat from eight yards, and no defender in sight, Bamba put the ball over the bar.
The visitors scored their second on 59 minutes when Ziyech teased the Lille defence before delivering a pin-point cross to the back post, where an unmarked Promes applied the scoring touch.
Ziyech thought he had a brace when he netted again with 12 minutes remaining, but the goal was chalked off by the Video Assistant Referee, who ruled the ball had struck his arm before he applied the finishing touch.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)