Ajax could be on the verge of salvaging a lucrative consolation prize from what has been a miserable season after thrashing arch-rivals Feyenoord 4-2 in Rotterdam and 7-2 on aggregate to reach the play-off final for Holland’s second Champions League spot next season.
In the two-legged final they will take on tiny FC Groningen who eliminated AZ Alkmaar 4-3 on aggregate despite going down 2-1 in the second leg in Alkmaar.
In previous seasons AZ’s second place finish in the regular season would have been enough to see them join champions PSV Eindhoven in the continent’s premier competition.
However, the introduction of play-offs this year ensured fourth-placed Ajax had a lifeline.
The Amsterdammers finished 24 points behind PSV but have now eliminated Feyenoord, who were 11 points ahead of Danny Blind’s side when the regular season finished.