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Rostov thrash Ajax and Hazard's brother hits a hat-trick as Champions League line-up is set

FC Copenhagen and Man City also progress to the group stages.

Borussia Moenchengladbach's Thorgan Hazard (file pic).
Borussia Moenchengladbach's Thorgan Hazard (file pic).
Image: AP/Press Association Images

UNHERALDED RUSSIAN SIDE Rostov qualified for the group stage of the Champions League with a famous win over Dutch former European champions Ajax tonight.

Rostov comfortably won 4-1 in front of a delirious crowd at their compact Olimp-2 stadium to win the play-off round tie 5-2 on aggregate, with Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun, Alexander Erokhin, Ecuador midfielder Christian Noboa and Dmitry Poloz scoring the goals. Davy Klaassen got one back for Ajax with a late penalty.

The win for Rostov comes after they humbled another famous old European name, Belgian side Anderlecht, in the third qualifying round, and ensures they will enter tomorrow’s group-stage draw.

Before this season, their only prior experience of European competition was a defeat to Trabzonspor of Turkey in the Europa League play-offs two years ago.

They finished second to champions CSKA Moscow in last season’s Russian Premier League under Kurban Berdyev, but their hopes of beating Ajax were not helped when the former Rubin Kazan coach resigned earlier this month.

However, former player Dmitri Kirichenko was named as caretaker and oversaw a 1-1 draw in Amsterdam in last week’s first leg before Rostov romped to victory in the return.

Azmoun got up brilliantly to head in a cross from the right by Erokhin for the first-half opener and two goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half killed the tie.

First Erokhin headed in a Timofei Kalachev free-kick and then Noboa deflected in an Ivan Novoseltsev shot.

The icing on the cake came as Poloz ran half the length of the field unchallenged and rounded Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen — who is expected to sign for Barcelona in the coming days — to make it four.

Ajax got one back through Klaassen’s penalty after Fedor Kudryashov was sent off for a reckless challenge on Kasper Dolberg, but the result will come as a huge blow to Ajax and their new coach Peter Bosz, the successor to Frank de Boer. It also means champions PSV Eindhoven will be the only Dutch representatives in the group stage.

Elsewhere, Manchester City beat Steaua Bucharest 1-0 to secure a 6-0 aggregate win over the Romanian former European Cup winners. Fabian Delph scored the only goal for Pep Guardiola’s side, as Joe Hart and Yaya Toure both came in from the cold to start at the Etihad Stadium.

There will be four English teams in the group stage and four German clubs as well after Borussia Moenchengladbach crushed Young Boys of Switzerland 6-1 for a 9-2 aggregate victory.

Thorgan Hazard — brother of Eden — and Raffael both grabbed hat-tricks for Andre Schubert’s team with Yoric Ravet getting one back for the side from Bern.

FC Copenhagen of Denmark are into the group stage for the first time in three years after Federico Santander’s late goal secured a 1-1 draw away to APOEL in Nicosia. The Cypriots, quarter-finalists in 2012, had led on the night thanks to Pieros Sotiriou’s strike but Copenhagen go through 2-1 on aggregate.

Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia will also be in tomorrow’s draw after their 2-1 extra-time win away to Salzburg in Austria saw them progress on a 3-2 aggregate scoreline.

 © AFP 2016

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