Tottenham 0 Ajax 1
Donny van de Beek 15
Spurs ran out of ideas last night because they ran out of players.
First half, Ajax played them off the pitch and scored early.
Wanyama and Llorente started, Eriksen was subdued, Dele Alli invisible, Kane injured, Son suspended.
The killer goal was borderline offside but there was no flag and VAR confirmed it was legal.
Ziyech’s clever pass had found van de Beek and his dummy sat Hugo Lloris down and then he slotted.
Spurs 0 Ajax 1 in 15 minutes.
Second half, Spurs stabilised but could not find a final ball.
While 14 of Tottenham’s 17 Champions League goals have been scored in the second half, and Ajax had kept only one clean sheet in their last 10 games, Spurs were not good enough to get a goal.
And they lost influential skipper Jan Vertonghen with a head injury.
History will record that this was the week when Spurs lost 1-0 at home to West Ham and then lost 1-0 at home to Ajax, by far the best team they’ve met in the Champions League.
In March, Borussia Dortmund played Spurs in the Round of 16 and Harry Kane scored the only goal of the game in 48 minutes.
In Madrid that same night, March 5th, Ajax scored two goals in the first half and two in the second and won 4-1 to eliminate the European Champions.
On the same night that Barcelona thrashed Manchester United 3-0, Juventus lost their second leg 2-1 to Ajax.
The following night brought the thriller in Manchester, where Spurs, having edged the first leg against City by 1-0, lost 4-3 but qualified on away goals.
Football is about players and goals but Spurs didn’t have a player who could score last night. And they didn’t have the teamwork to create a goal either.
But when Tadic found Neres in space, his low shot hit the post. If that goes in, Ajax will be in the Champions League Final. They still should be.
In 79, Pochettino replaced both full backs. Ben Davies came on for Danny Rose, Juan Foyth for Kieran Trippier. And the kid played very well.
Pochettino provided Gareth Southgate with half his England team in last summer’s World Cup and Southgate took them deep into the tournament before losing to 2-1 to Croatia after extra time on July 11th. Spurs were always going to pay a price for England’s exciting summer exploits in Russia.
Barcelona v Liverpool?
Klopp has the second leg at home but Lionel Messi is the most inventive footballer in the world.
Messi scored two goals against Man United but he will find it much harder to do that tonight.
I firmly believe that the sparky Sadio Mane is the new Luis Suarez. He’s not as ruthless as the ageing Uruguayan but he’s quicker and more agile than Suarez ever was.
The second leg is at Anfield and I may be able to preview that game.