Ajax Amsterdam 0 – Real Madrid 4


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France international midfielder LASSANA DIARRA, in a rare start for Real Madrid this season, watches as former Spain U-21 international midfielder PEDRO LEON, another who has spent plenty of time riding the pine this term, leaps the sliding tackle of Ajax Amsterdam’s Holland international midfielder URBY EMANUELSON at the Amsterdam Arena in the Netherlands. (Peter De Jong/AP)
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UEFA Champions League
Group Stage
11/23/2010

0 – Ajax Amsterdam (HOL)
4 – Real Madrid (SPA) ———— Benzema 36, Arbeloa 44′, Ronaldo 70′, pen ’81

Once upon a time, before the Peace of Muenster in 1648, what is now the Kingdom of the Netherlands was actually ruled by the Spanish Crown — for some during the UEFA Champions League match at the Amsterdam Arena, it may have seemed as if nothing has changed.

A pair of goals on each side of the halftime whistle powered visiting REAL MADRID to an impressive 4-0 victory over AJAX AMSTERDAM and guaranteed that the Spanish capital city club will finish first in Group G whatever the result of its final round-robin game.

A leaping, sublime backheel from Germany World Cup midfielder MESUT OEZIL after a long ball from Spain World Cup champion midfielder XABI ALONSO allowed France international striker KARIM BENZEMA to neatly curl past Holland World Cup goalkeeper MAARTEN STEKELENBURG of Ajax Amsterdam roughly ten minutes before the break.

Benzema, rewarded for recent improved play with a start for the resting Argentina World Cup striker GONZALO HIGUAIN, bagged his first goal in the UEFA Champions League and third in all competitions this season for Real Madrid.

ALVARO ARBELOA, a reserve on Spain’s title-winning team in South Africa this summer and one of several reserves given a game by Portuguese manager JOSE MOURINHO with Real Madrid already qualified for the next round heading into the match, took a lot of starch out of the home side right before halftime.

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Germany World Cup midfielder MESUT OEZIL of Real Madrid (23), the summer acquisition from Bundesliga club Werder Bremen who now leads Los Blancos with three assists in the UEFA Champions League, looks to beat Ajax Amsterdam’s Holland international midfielder URBY EMANUELSON (11) at the Amsterdam Arena. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Real Madrid youth product and former FC Liverpool center back corralled a free kick that had been blocked by the Ajax Amsterdam wall and launched a long-range shot that may have taken a slight deflection to fool Stekelenburg; still, the goalkeeper for de Godenzonen might have done much better.

Stekelenburg did make a spectacular save to steer the ball off the crossbar after Portugal World Cup star CRISTIANO RONALDO had burst into the box following a fine move right after the restart.

A back-breaker, however, did arrive ten minutes after the hour when Real Madrid’s Argentina World Cup midfielder ANGEL DI MARIA, a second half substitute for PEDRO LEON, helped himself to a horrendous Ajax square ball near midfield and released Ronaldo on the left in the box; the world’s most expensive player did not waste this chance with a low, left-footed shot past the hapless Stekelenburg.

The Portuguese superstar closed the books from the spot after absolute trickery from Oezil forced the bamboozled Holland international midfielder URBY EMANUELSON to haul the influential German down in the Ajax penalty area.

With the brace, Ronaldo ran his count in the UEFA Champions League to three and now registers 18 goals from 19 matches in all competitions for Real Madrid this season.

The second successive loss in the group, coupled with AC Milan’s defeat of AJ Auxerre in Burgundy, has conspired to officially eliminate Ajax Amsterdam from the knockout round of the UEFA Champions League.

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Spain World Cup champion reserve defender ALVARO ARBELOA (left) of Real Madrid battles 21-year-old Serbia international striker MIRALEM SULEJMANI, who is struggling with just one goal from 24 appearances in all competitions this season for Ajax Amsterdam, for the ball at the Amsterdam Arena. (Michael Kooren/Reuters)
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AJAX AMSTERDAM : Stekelenburg ; van der Wiel, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Enoh ; Emanuelson, de Jong (Lindgren 77′), Anita ; Sulejmani (Eriksen 88′), Suarez, El Hamdaoui (de Zeeuw 46′)

REAL MADRID : Casillas ; Marcelo, Arbeloa, Albiol, Sergio Ramos ; L. Diarra (Mateos 82′), Xabi Alonso, Oezil, Leon (Di Maria 65′) ; Benzema (Sergio Canales 82′), Ronaldo

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(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Spain World Cup champion midfielder XABI ALONSO (14), a purchase costing 30.0 million Euros from English Premier League club FC Liverpool in August of 2009, leaves the playing field after his early dismissal in the 87th minute against Ajax Amsterdam at the Amsterdam Arena. (Toussaint Kluiters/Reuters)
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Spain World Cup champion defender SERGIO RAMOS, who registered a goal from the penalty spot for Real Madrid against Athletic Bilbao over the weekend, is ordered off the pitch late by match referee CRAIG THOMSON as Ajax Amsterdam’s Uruguay World Cup striker LUIS SUAREZ (16) stares off into the distance during the conclusion of the home side’s heavy defeat at the Amsterdam Arena in the Low Countries. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

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