Michael Essien continued the road to top form as he helped Real Madrid to thump Ajax 4-1 in the Uefa Champions League on Wednesday night.
The 29-year-old lasted 78th minute at the Amsterdam Arena as he continues his recovery to reach top shape.
He was picked ahead of Samir Khedira and combined effectively with Xabi Alonso, who had more space to operate with the Ghanaian super star mopping up well just in front of the Madrid defence.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick and Karim Benzema smashed in a spectacular overhead kick to give the Whites the comfortable victory and sent them top of Group D and left Ajax pointless in its first two European outings this season.
Ronaldo scored his first in the 42nd and added two more in the 79th and 81st minutes to seal the match after Niklas Moisander’s 56th minute header had made it 2-1 and briefly given Ajax hope.
Ronaldo, who also netted a hat trick in the Spanish league on Sunday, took his Champions League career tally to 42 goals in a morale-boosting win for Madrid ahead of this weekend’s league clash with archrival Barcelona.
But it was Benzema’s 48th-minute strike that was the highlight.
The France striker hit a powerful overhead volley that left Ajax goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer clutching at thin air.
The return to form of Essien will surely excite many Ghanaian fans as it could revive his international career.