Ajax is no longer undefeated this season (including in the UEFA Champions League). Ajax lost Wednesday evening’s game to Chelsea, 0-1, in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. The game was heading towards a scoreless tie, but four minutes before time, Michy Batshuayi decided otherwise.
This loss means that Chelsea and Ajax now each have six points. Valencia could potentially reach this total later tonight if they defeat Lille, who currently have no points.
After the win at RKC, Erik ten Hag made two changes to his starting eleven. Nico Tagliafico (suspended in Waalwijk) and Edson Alvarez were chosen to play. This was at the expense of Noussair Mazraoui and Klaas Jan Huntelaar. Captain Dusan Tadic, as is often the case in European matches, played the role of shadow centre forward.
Intense start for Ajax
Ajax was intense in the beginning and, via Donny van de Beek, had a good opportunity early on. The midfielder’s shot was blocked. Later on, Joel Veltman ran with the ball at his feet for 30 meters. The defender decided to take the shot himself. It wasn’t a bad attempt, but it wasn’t enough to ruffle keeper Kepa.
Ten Hag’s team was unable to hold on to that early momentum. As the first half progressed, the Ajax players’ game became sloppier and Chelsea started to get a handle on the situation. The English team created lots of danger from the left side. In the fifteenth minute, Mason Mount forced keeper Andre Onana to make a superhuman save. Hudson Odoi also had an opportunity from a similar position, but his shot faltered and went wide.
Video referee puts a stripe through Promes’ goal
Ten minutes to halftime, Ajax seemed to take the lead out of the blue. A Hakim Ziyech shot which changed direction landed right at Quincy Promes’ feet. The Amsterdam player, who is in great form, sent his shot into an empty goal and the ArenA erupted joyfully. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. After consulting the video referee, the goal was disallowed. Promes had been offside by a hair.
In the second half, Ajax had the first big opportunity. On a corner from the right side, Alvarez sent a beautiful header diagonally towards the goal. His attempt hit the post. A few seconds later, a long distance shot by Daley Blind ended up in the hands of goalie Kepa.
Fifteen minutes before time, Ten Hag made his first substitution. David Neres came in for Promes. A few minutes prior, everyone in the ArenA had breather a sigh of relief when Batshuayi, who had suddenly appeared in front of Onana, sent his shot over. But it was irrelevant, as Batshuayi was offside anyway.
Two conflicting trains of thought
The match continued without many more good opportunities. Ajax seemed to be stumbling on two trains of through: cherish the one point and keep Chelsea at three points? Or go for the win and risk a counter?
In the end, it was the second scenario that came true. A pass from the left landed with Batshuayi, who sent a shot into the goal via the crossbar’s underside: 0-1. Ten Hag tried to turn the tide with a double substitution – Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Siem de Jong came in – but this didn’t deliver any results. Ajax had lost its first game this season.