AMSTERDAM — A rampant Napoli condemned Ajax to its worst defeat in the Champions League on Tuesday, a 6-1 thrashing that maintained the Serie A leader’s perfect start in the group stage.
Napoli’s unrelenting high pressing forwards and midfielders never gave Ajax time to build up from the back and forced defenders to repeatedly turn over the ball, creating chance after chance for the visitors.
The rout surpassed Ajax’s previous worst result in Europe, a 5-1 defeat by Bayern Munich in 1980.
“It was a difficult, painful evening for us. Not worthy of Ajax,” said Ajax coach Alfred Schreuder.
Napoli, which recorded its biggest away win in Europe, has now scored 13 goals in three Group A matches this Champions League campaign.
Luciano Spalletti’s team conceded an early goal but quickly seized total control at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Napoli was without injured center forward Victor Osimhen but it did have Giacomo Raspadori, who showed his class by scoring two goals in two Nations League wins last month for Italy over England and Hungary.
“We are really happy – we need to carry on like this and improve day by day,” Raspadori told Sky Sport.
After Mohammed Kudus deflected Kenneth Taylor’s shot into the Napoli goal to give Ajax a ninth-minute lead, it was Raspadori who equalized nine minutes later, stooping at the far post to head in a cross from the left by Mathias Olivera.
Defender Giovani Di Lorenzo gave Napoli the lead when he beat Jurrien Timber to a cross from the right by Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and headed into the corner in the 33rd.
Just before halftime, Piotr Zielinski picked up the ball just inside his own half, sprinted through a gaping hole in Ajax’s defense and shot past Remko Pasveer who got a hand to the ball but could not stop the Poland midfielder scoring his third goal in as many Champions League matches this season.
The pressure didn’t let up after the break and Raspadori grabbed his second goal in the 47th after Pasveer’s sloppy pass to Calvin Bassey was intercepted.
Raspadori cut through the static defense again in the 63rd with a quick exchange of passes to set up Kvaratskhelia for Napoli’s fifth goal. Substitute Giovanni Simeone made it 6-1 with a powerful close-range shot in the 81st as dejected Ajax fans poured out of the stadium. Those who stayed booed the home team off the pitch.
“Today, Napoli was better than us,” said Ajax captain Dusan Tadic, who was sent off in the 74th minute for his second yellow card.
Napoli tops the group with nine points, three more than second-place Liverpool which beat Rangers 2-0 on Tuesday. Ajax has three points.