AMSTERDAM, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Argentine full back Nicolas Tagliafico scored two second-half goals as Ajax Amsterdam marked their return to the Champions League group stages with an emphatic 3-0 victory over AEK Athens on Wednesday.
After a goalless first half, Tagliafico netted either side of a strike from Donny van de Beek as Ajax, four-times European champions, cruised to victory.
It was the first time the Dutch club have claimed victory in their opening pool match since 2002, giving them a positive start to their Group E campaign as they return to this stage of the competition for the first time in four years.
Ajax had more of the ball in the opening period, though neither side created many clear-cut chances.
Andre Simoes headed wide for the visitors from a corner with the best opportunity, but the home side were much improved after the break.
They forged ahead within a minute of the re-start as a corner was cleared to Brazilian David Neres just outside the box and his ball into the penalty area was volleyed into the net by Argentina international Tagliafico.
He might have had a second when his header was brilliantly stopped by goalkeeper Vasilios Barkas, who thrust out an arm when Tagliafico seemed sure to score.
Ajax substitute Van de Beek had a goal ruled out for offside, but 14 minutes from time he volleyed home a second with an excellent finish.
He was teed up by Serbian midfielder Dusan Tadic, who continued his superb start to the season for the Dutch club with a pinpoint cross.
The victory was sealed when Tagliafico netted with a fine 25-yard shot from a tight angle. (Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)