Ajax fails to win in Liege

Ajax fails to win in Liege

Ajax was unable to convert a beautiful 0-2 lead against Standard Liege into a win. After goals by Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Dusan Tadic, and a handful of missed opportunities, the home team drew even in the final minutes of the Champions League third round qualifying game: 2-2.

“We’re hoping to score an away goal”, said coach Erik ten Hag prior to the game.  He was well served.  Ajax scored twice, but was still unable to grab the win.  But with a 2-2 draw, they are still in a good position for the return game.

Starting spot Daley Blind

The Amsterdam team did not look the same as in last week’s game against Sturm Graz.  In Liege, a starting spot was reserved for one of this season’s big acquisitions, Daley Blind – after Dusan Tadic had started last week.  Daley Blind and Matthijs de Ligt formed the defensive heart of the team.  Frenkie de Jong thus moved over to midfield. Carel Eiting wasn’t on the squad at all.

Standard was dangerous out of the starting blocks. The ball landed next to Andre Onana’s goal a couple of times, but it was Ajax who scored first.  The visitors scored the much coveted away goal in the 19thminute.  Tadic made a beautiful pass from the back line, and Klaas Jan Huntelaar sent a very sharp header in.  It was his third goal of the young season.

Three minutes later, Orlando Sá could have brought Standard even with Ajax, but Onana stopped the goal with his foot.

The score was doubled in the 34th minute.  Hakim Ziyech passed to Neres from his own half.  The latter passed back and Tadic took a shot that went in via the inside post: 0-2.  Right before the break, a Lasse Schone free kick ended up hitting the post.

Still exciting

After the break, Hakim Ziyech could have put Ajax into a comfortable 0-3 lead, but he shot wide of Ochoa on a 1 on 1.  The home team thus remained in the game and was rewarded in the 67thminute.  Mehdi Carcela took a shot from outside the penalty kick area and surprisingly passed Onana, 1-2, and one minute later, it was almost 2-2 when substitute Renaud Emond came close to scoring with a header.  Via de inside of the field, Onana was fortunately able to make the save.

In the water break – midway through the first and the second half, due to the warm conditions – Ten Hag was able to address his team.  He brought in Zakaria Labyad in for his official debut, and Ziyech went out.  A few minutes later, Donny van de Beek came in and saw that Huntelaar should have scored the 1-3 goal.  But the striker met his match in Ochoa.

Setback in the final minutes

Standard Liege put pressure in the final minutes and, in extra time, coach Michel Preud’homme’s team evened the game.  Emond shot from twelve yards out, 2-2.  Ajax remains undefeated after 3 European duels.  Next week, the return takes place in a sold-out Johan Cruijff ArenA.