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Young gun Gravenberch scores as Ajax beats Midtjylland 3-1

Ryan Gravenberch scored a memorable first Champions League goal as Ajax dominated Midtjylland in a 3-1 win on Wednesday at the empty Johan Cruyff Arena.

The win moved Ajax to second in Group D, ahead of Atalanta on goal difference. Atalanta beat group leader Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield.

Ajax had lost four of its last five Champions League home matches and Erik ten Hag's forwards squandered a string of chances in the first half as they dominated possession. The 18-year-old midfielder Gravenberch showed them how to finish less than two minutes after the break with a curling shot that hit the underside of the bar on its way into the goal.

Ajax teammates celebrate with Noussair Mazraoui, second right, who scored his side's second goal during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Midtjylland at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoPatrick Post)

Right back Noussair Mazraoui doubled the lead two minutes later, running onto a pass by Dusan Tadic and beating goalkeeper Jesper Hansen at his near post. Brazil winger David Neres made it 3-0 in the 66th minute with a low shot past Hansen.

Awer Mabil pulled a goal back for the visitors from the penalty spot in the 81st minute after being fouled by Mazraoui.

The match was preceded by a minute's silence in honor of Diego Maradona.

Ajax teammates celebrate with Noussair Mazraoui, second right, who scored his side's second goal during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Midtjylland at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoPatrick Post)

Before the break, Lassina Traore fired wildly over the bar twice from close range and saw the ball hit the bar after he curled a shot over Hansen. Zakaria Labyad also failed to capitalize on good scoring chances, shooting tamely in the 10th minute and placing a shot too close to Hansen five minutes later allowing the keeper to make a good save.

Liverpool leads the group with nine points, ahead of Ajax and Atalanta on seven.

The defeat left Midtjylland stuck at the bottom of the group and still searching for its first Champions League victory.

Ajax players, wearing black mourning arm bands, Midtjylland players and the referee and linesmen observe a minute of silence as they commemorate Argentinian soccer great Diego Maradona prior to the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Midtjylland at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. Maradona, who scored the "Hand of God" goal in 1986 and led his country to that year's World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity, has died. He was 60. (AP PhotoPatrick Post)

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Ajax's Lassina Traore, front, and Midtjylland's Paulinho vie for the ball during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Midtjylland at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoPatrick Post)

Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico tackles Midtjylland's Alexander Scholz, front, during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Midtjylland at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoPatrick Post)

Ajax's David Neres, left, celebrates scoring his side's third goal during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Midtjylland at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoPatrick Post)

Midtjylland's Sory Kaba, left, and Erik Sviatchenko, right, react as Ajax players celebrate scoring their side's first goal during the group D Champions League soccer match between Ajax and Midtjylland at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. (AP PhotoPatrick Post)