Mazraoui’s late strike gives Ajax 1-0 win over Benfica

Ajax's Noussair Mazraoui, right, scores his side's first goal during a Group E Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Benfica at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Right back Noussair Mazraoui scored an injury-time winner Tuesday as Ajax beat Benfica 1-0 to remain unbeaten in Champions League Group E.

Goalkeepers Andre Onana and Odisseas Vlachodimos both made key saves as the game appeared headed for a goalless stalemate.

But Vlachodimos stood no chance as Mazraoui’s shot in the 92nd minute was deflected into the net by Alex Grimaldo from Ajax’s final attack of the match.

The win left Ajax at the top of the group, level with Bayern Munich which beat AEK Athens 2-0 earlier in the evening.

Both teams showed attacking intent at the Johan Cruyff Arena, but Benfica’s quick and aggressive midfield largely canceled out Ajax’s more measured passing game.

Ajax ‘keeper Onana had to save twice in the opening five minutes to deny Rafa Silva and Haris Seferovic, while Vlachodimos blocked two excellent Ajax chances. He advanced off his line to block an effort by Kasper Dolberg in the 22nd minute and stuck out a right hand to palm away a powerful shot from Donny van de Beek in the 74th.

When Dolberg managed to beat Vlachodimos five minutes before halftime, German Conti hooked the ball off the line. Technology showed the ball almost — but not quite — fully over the line.

But there was no doubt about Mazraoui’s emphatic shot from the edge of the penalty area in extra time.


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