An early goal from Donny Van De Beek gave Ajax a crucial 1-0 win against Spurs in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The away side started off the better and their crisp passing and youthful endeavour led to their opener after just 15 minutes as Donny Van De Beek picked up space between the Spurs centre-halves and cooly slotted the ball past Hugo Lloris.
Ajax dominated proceedings in the first half as the home side lost Jan Verthonghen with a worrying head injury but looked more comfortable as they pressed for an equaliser to take to Amsterdam for the second leg.
Erik ten Hag’s men however held on as they take a crucial away goal back for the home tie.
Here are 11 quickfire conclusions as Van De Beek’s goal gives Ajax the edge over Spurs.
1) It’s difficult to know whether or not Tottenham’s new stadium will continue to have an effect on their activity in the transfer market but there’s no doubt that it was a necessary addition to a top-level club. The atmosphere from the off was sensational and certainly worthy of a Champions League semi-final.
2) What a refreshing side Ajax have been in this year’s Champions League. Spurs started quite well but the away side grew into the game and took control playing confident and crisp passing football with Donny Van De Beek running from midfield causing Pochettino’s side serious problems.
3) Van De Beek is a player who has been crucial in Ajax’s Champions League run this season and he was arguably the star of the first half. He started the move which led to his goal with a lovely touch-and-turn away from his defender before popping up unmarked in the box to finish smartly past Hugo Lloris.
4) Spurs’ lack of squad depth was really on show in this game especially in the attacking department. With both Harry Kane and Heung Min-Son out and Vincent Janssen ineligible, Fernando Llorente was their only recognised striker, with Moussa Sissoko their only attacking option available from the bench.
5) The head injury to Spurs’ Jan Verthonghen in the first half was very worrying. The fact that he suffered such a nasty blow and was allowed back onto the pitch was hugely alarming, and he looked in some distress when he was taken off shortly afterwards. It’s another incident that should raise concerns over football’s head injury protocol. How he was allowed to play on by the Spurs medical staff is something that should definitely be looked at.
6) Spurs grew into the game in the second half and looked dangerous when they were on the attack but you just felt that they were missing the killer instinct that a Harry Kane or even a Heung Min-Son would provide. They also missed the overall quality of their captain as an attacking outlet.
7) Looking at the current struggles Manchester United have at centre-back it’s very difficult to see why they let Daley Blind go. Up against the awkward task of Llorente and Lucas Moura he and De Ligt did excellently to stem most of their attacks looking incredibly comfortable in possession also.
8) What was also impressive about this Ajax performance was their ability to fight and grind out a result in a gritty second half in which Spurs largely dominated. So often they are lauded for their pretty football but tonight they proved that they can win with their backs against the wall also.
9) Frenkie De Jong was impressive for Ajax on the night. Playing at the base of their midfield his calmness on the ball and quality in the tackle makes it easy to see why he’ll be a Barcelona player next season.
10) Much was made about Ajax getting last weekend off domestically while Spurs still had to play. It was evident at times that they looked fatigued from the long season and lack of squad rotation. A break could have done them the world of good.
11) The result isn’t the end of the world for Spurs especially given their injury issues and the fact that Ajax’s home form hasn’t been flawless this season which will certainly give Pochettino’s men cause for hope.