Tottenham 0-1 Ajax: Spurs stunned as Dutch minnows seize control of Champions League semi-final
Tottenham became the latest club to be stunned at home to Ajax in the Champions League, suffering a damaging 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their semi-final.
Spurs have it all to do in Amsterdam next Wednesday after Donny Van de Beek grabbed a crucial away goal for the fearless visitors without reply.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men could’ve had a mountain to climb following a disastrous first-half during which they barely saw the ball.
And while they steadied the ship after the break, the hosts failed to seriously test Andre Onana – and the absence of Heung-min Son and Harry Kane was notable.
But the best chance of the second-half fell to Ajax’s David Neres, who came inches from doubling the lead when he hit the post late on, and that might prove a crucial moment ahead of Son’s return for the second leg.
Questions will be asked of Spurs’ medical team after they allowed Jan Vertonghen to return to the field after a nasty head injury.
The Belgium defender was given the all-clear by the doctors but was barely able to walk moments later and was escorted off.
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Erik Ten Hag’s side showed glimpses of exactly why they have beaten Real Madrid and Juventus en route to the last four as they cut Spurs open in the opening 20 minutes.
Spurs had home advantage and a vociferous support, with the acoustics of their fine new stadium fuelling a brilliant atmosphere, but that soon passed as Ajax assumed total control.
The hosts had hardly had a kick by the time they were sliced open by a brilliant passing move in the 15th minute.
It involved Lasse Schone and Hakim Ziyech, who slipped in Van De Beek and he had an age to pick his spot low past Hugo Lloris.
The goal survived a VAR check for offside and it was almost two eight minutes later but another picturebook move, which saw Dusan Tadic play Van De Beek in, was thwarted by the legs of Lloris.
Spurs’ evening took another turn for the worse after Vertonghen suffered a head injury which left him bloodied and dazed and he could barely walk down the tunnel after a brave attempt to play on was short-lived.
That injury forced the early introduction of Sissoko and that gave Spurs an extra dimension as they showed Ajax could be got at with a direct approach.
Lucas Moura caused panic with a surging run into penalty area while Toby Alderweireld headed a good chance over.
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They carried on that momentum after the restart as Dele Alli, totally anonymous in the first half, had a shot blocked then fired an instinctive first-time volley straight at Onana before heading another opportunity over.
The game had completely changed as Ajax had begun to struggle to cope with Tottenham’s physicality, but the home side just lacked that quality at the vital moment, making the questions Pochettino and Lucas had to field before the game about who was going to score entirely pertinent.
For all their bluster, Spurs were unable to force Onana into a serious save and in the end it was the woodwork that kept them in the tie.
A quick counter saw Ajax work the ball across goal to Neres, but his side-footed shot hit the far post and Spurs survived.
There was one last push to find a leveller but it never looked like coming, meaning they have work to do in Amsterdam next Wednesday.
Source: SportsLatest TS