Ajax’s Fairytale Champions League Run End After Valencia Defeat

Ajax’ Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana (3rdR) and teammates react after valencia scored the opener during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Valencia CF at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on December 10, 2019.
Maurice van STEEN / ANP / AFP

 

Ajax’s hopes of another fairytale run in the Champions League were dashed on Tuesday as a 1-0 defeat at home to Valencia sent them crashing out and the Spaniards through to the last 16. 

Rodrigo Moreno’s 24th-minute strike proved the winner at the Johan Cruyff Arena and enough to flip the top three in Group H, with Valencia advancing in first place along with Chelsea, who beat bottom club Lille 2-1.

Ajax were arguably the story of the competition last season when their youthful team went all the way to the semi-finals but there will be no repeat this year.

Gabriel Paulista was sent off in injury-time but even against 10 men, they could not find the equaliser they needed.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Edge Past Lille, Qualify For Champions League Last 16

Instead, Valencia not only progress but have earned themselves the best chance of a kind draw when the knock-out stage is decided in Nyon on December 16.

It seemed unlikely after they missed a series of golden opportunities to beat Chelsea earlier this month but a 2-2 draw still left them with a chance, even if the odds were not in their favour.

They knew they either had to beat Ajax, against whom they had lost 3-0 at home in October, or at least match the result of Chelsea, who always seemed likely to win against Lille at Stamford Bridge.

Ajax, meanwhile, began the night two points clear at the top of the group and needed only a draw to go through.

Valencia coach Albert Celades, who made his La Liga debut as a player under Cruyff, was now in the dugout of the stadium named after the iconic Dutchman and this will be a major boost for his side, who are eighth in La Liga after a rocky start to the season on and off the pitch.

Ajax sit three points clear at the top of the Eredivisie but last year’s heroics in the Champions League, and their heartbreaking defeat to Tottenham, meant they had European ambitions too.

Rodrigo headed wide from a corner early on but after a frantic start, the game settled, with Ajax dominating possession and Valencia trying to counter-attack.

Against the run of play, Valencia took the lead as Rodrigo’s bending run in behind was picked out by a Ferran Torres pass. Rodrigo controlled with his left and fired the ball with his right into the roof of the net.

Ajax had to wait until the end of the half for their best chance as Donny van de Beek latched onto Hakim Ziyech’s pass and lifted the ball over Jaume Domenech, only for Jose Gaya to make a brilliant clearance off the line.

Rodrigo might have made it two at the other end but it was Ajax that were pushing for an equaliser after the restart as Valencia retreated.

Ziyech should have levelled but fluffed his finish at the near post before 20-year-old Noa Lang hooked over from inside the box.

Lille pulled a goal back away at Chelsea to give Ajax further hope and they were almost gifted an equaliser by Valencia’s Daniel Wass, who chesting the ball away from his own goalkeeper.

Ziyech went close with a shot towards the near post and, three minutes into injury-time, Gabriel was sent off for thrusting his head into Dusan Tadic.

It left Valencia to defend two minutes, and a corner, with 10 men but Ajax could not find a way through.

AFP

Ajax Reappoint Van der Sar As Chief Executive Until 2023

Photo: AFC Ajax Twitter Page

 

Former Netherlands goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was reappointed as Ajax chief executive until 2023, the club announced on Friday.

The 49-year-old has been in charge at the Johan Cruyff Arena since 2016, helping the club win last season’s Dutch league title and reach the Champions League semi-finals.

Ajax said they will extend Van der Sar’s contract by four years until November 2023.

“Very happy with my contract extension at this beautiful club,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We’ve had some difficult moments, but the good times are definitely back. And of course, we want more in the future.”

READ ALSO: Man City Lose Appeal To CAS Over Financial Fair-Play Investigation

Van der Sar played for Ajax from 1990-1999, winning the Champions League in 1995.

He went on to lift the European Cup again in 2008 with Manchester United after spells at Juventus and Fulham.

Van der Sar returned to Ajax in 2012 as director of marketing before being promoted four years later to CEO.

He is also the second-highest capped Netherlands player of all-time with 130 international appearances.

AFP

Chelsea Fightback Salvages 4-4 Draw Against Nine-Man Ajax

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (C) celebrates after thinking he’s scored their fifth goal but it is disallowed by the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) during the UEFA Champion’s League Group H football match between Chelsea and Ajax at Stamford Bridge in London on November 5, 2019.
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Chelsea fought back from 4-1 down to salvage a 4-4 draw against nine-man Ajax as a memorable night at Stamford Bridge left both sides with work to do to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

Frank Lampard’s men seemed destined for a second straight home defeat in Europe as first-half own goals from Tammy Abraham and Kepa Arrizabalaga added to Quincy Promes’ header and predatory finish from Donny Van der Beek to hand the Dutch champions a 4-1 lead.

However, after Cesar Azpilicueta brought Chelsea back into the game at 4-2, the visitors were reduced to nine men by second yellow cards for Daley Blind and Joel Veltman in the move that led to the hosts being awarded their second penalty of the night.

Jorginho had briefly brought Chelsea level at 1-1 from the spot in the first half and converted once more.

Reece James then levelled for the Blues and only VAR denied Chelsea a famous victory when Azpilicueta’s strike was ruled out for a handball by Abraham.

Both sides are now locked on seven points at top of Group H with Valencia, who were 4-1 winners over Lille.

Chelsea had won their previous seven Premier and Champions League games with Lampard’s young side earning rave reviews for their attacking intent.

The former England international hailed his side’s 1-0 victory in Amsterdam two weeks ago as the best of his Chelsea tenure to date for the way they added a defensive resolve to their attacking verve.

Chelsea Defensive Lapses

Two weeks on, they were easily undone from crosses as Ajax went in front inside two minutes when Promes’ free-kick flicked off Abraham and into his own net.

Chelsea responded immediately as Christian Pulisic’s promising form of recent weeks continued with a powerful run into the box before he was brought down by Veltman.

Jorginho coolly slotted home the resulting spot-kick and Chelsea had the ball in the net again moments later but Abraham was rightly flagged offside.

Just as Chelsea were beginning to wrestle control, Ajax retook the lead with a wicked cross from Hakim Ziyech picking out Promes to head home.

Ziyech was the creator once more 10 minutes before half-time when his sensational free-kick from near the right touchline came back off the post and rebounded in off goalkeeper Arrizabalaga’s face.

Chelsea started the second half strongly, but any hope of a comeback appeared to have gone when Van de Beek, who scored a number of vital goals on Ajax’s run to the last four last season, rifled home another Ziyech assist.

To their credit, Chelsea never gave up even after an injury to Mason Mount threatened to compound a miserable night.

Azpilicueta sparked the fightback by prodding in at the back post after Abraham had flicked Pulisic’s low cross goalwards.

Then a minute of madness turned the game on its head 20 minutes from time as Ajax had Blind and Veltman sent-off and conceded a second penalty.

Blind was shown a second yellow card for bringing down Abraham and, as the advantage was played, Veltman handled Callum Hudson-Odoi’s shot inside his own box and was also booked for the second time.

Jorginho calmly sent Andre Onana the wrong way from the spot to make it 3-4.

Three minutes later, Lampard’s men were level when James smashed home after Kurt Zouma’s header came off the bar.

Azpilicueta thought he had completed the comeback only for his second goal of the night to be ruled out for a handball by Abraham after a VAR review.

Hudson-Odoi fired inches wide and Onana made a brilliant save to deny Michy Batshuayi a winner in a frantic finale, but Ajax held out for what in the end was a welcome point after an eight-goal thriller.

Lampard Proud Of ‘Best Win’ As Chelsea Manager

 

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard hailed his side’s 1-0 victory at Ajax in the Champions League as his best yet in charge of the Blues.

Lampard made a telling impact with his substitutions at the Johan Cruyff Arena as Christian Pulisic set up Michy Batshuayi to score the winner four minutes from time.

After a difficult start to his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, Lampard has now masterminded six straight wins in all competitions.

“It is (the best win),” the former England midfielder told BT Sport. “I’m so happy, I knew how tough this game would be.

“To play and beat them and deserve to beat them means we are absolutely top all over the pitch. I was so, so proud of the performance.”

READ ALSO: Batshuayi Fires Chelsea To Late Ajax Win

Victory in Amsterdam puts Chelsea level with last season’s Champions League semi-finalists on six points at the top of Group H and back on track to make the last 16 after a home defeat to Valencia on matchday one.

“It was very important after losing the first game against Valencia,” said Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta.

“We showed a great ability to control the game after the first 15-20 minutes.

“We had a lot of chances to win the game, we were brave, we pressed high and very happy to get a late goal from Michy.”

Batshuayi has had to be patient for his chance to shine under Lampard with Tammy Abraham’s fine form keeping the Belgian international on the sidelines.

Lampard introduced Batshuayi ahead of French international Olivier Giroud for the final 20 minutes and he had the desired effect by smashing in off the underside of the bar from Pulisic’s cut-back.

“The other two (Giroud and Batshuayi) stay patient, work hard, support the group and have talent. He’s waited for his moment and fully deserved it,” added Lampard.

Batshuayi Fires Chelsea To Late Ajax Win

Chelsea’s Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League Group H football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Chelsea on October 23, 2019 at the Johan Cruijff Arena, in Amsterdam. John THYS / AFP

 

Chelsea showed that their young side were ready for the European stage on Wednesday after Michy Batshuayi’s late winner fired them to a 1-0 Champions League win at Ajax that puts them square in the fight for the knockout stages.

Substitute Batshuayi struck in the 86th minute to seal a hugely impressive win in Amsterdam that puts Chelsea level on six points with last year’s semi-finalists at the top of Group H.

Valencia will have the chance to draw alongside their group rivals with a win at Lille later on Wednesday.

“It’s feels huge, which always scares me because there’s a lot to do. We’re entitled to be excited about the way we played tonight,” Lampard told reporters.

“That’s the blueprint. No excuses from now to dip from that.”

Frank Lampard’s side had to ride their luck in the Johan Cruyff Arena, with Quincy Promes’ first half tap-in ruled out for the tightest of offsides and Edson Alvarez hitting the post with a diving header near the hour mark.

However, a youthful Chelsea showed they could compete with Europe’s top sides despite losing Eden Hazard in the summer, going toe-to-toe with one of the continent’s most dynamic attacking teams in a tight contest before winning their sixth straight match in all competitions.

They face Ajax at Stamford Bridge in the next round of games in a clash that on Wednesday’s evidence looks to be the key in deciding who tops the group.

“They’re still babies in terms of Champions League minutes… football will continue to give you tests all the time to I don’t want to say they’re there or ‘this is it’,” added Lampard.

“But I thought the balance of young players that are learning quickly and the experienced players who they rely on to set examples feels good.”

Stifled Ajax curse luck

In a match littered with sloppy passing in the final third, it was another substitute in Christian Pulisic who provided a moment of quality to slot a low cross across the area that Batshuyai got to first.

The Belgian’s finish squeezed in off the crossbar to send Chelsea’s players and fans wild and provide Ajax with their first defeat of a season that had seen them continue with the form that bewitched Europe last season.

Chelsea restricted Ajax’s talented attacking side, led by Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech, to just two shots on target, while academy graduates Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham initially led the charge at the other end.

Lampard spoke very highly of Hudson-Odoi on Tuesday and the winger was a threat on the left, even though the youngster was wasteful when he got the ball.

The 18-year-old gave the ball away in attacking positions a number of times in the first half and fired a very presentable chance wide in the 27th minute when a Marcos Alonso cross dropped to him in the area.

The only shot on target in the opening period came from Mount, who played a neat one-two with Hudson-Odoi before forcing Andre Onana into a smart save at his near post.

However it was Promes who came closest to opening the scoring when he pounced on Hakim Ziyech’s deflected shot to tap home, only to see the goal ruled out as he celebrated with his teammates and supporters.

The home fans could hardly believe their luck when Alvarez’s header bounced off the upright after the break, as Chelsea’s defence briefly wobbled before regaining composure and becoming the second team this season to shut out flamboyant Ajax.

Lampard sent on Pulisic and Batshuayi for Willian and Abraham and the move almost paid off immediately, the striker finding himself completely free in the box in the 73rd minute only to lash his finish way over the bar.

However he soon had his winner thanks to American Pulisic, himself just 21, who has been left out of the limelight this season but made an impact when he laid on his attacking partner for a huge winner.

Ten Hag Targets Champions League Triumph With Ajax

Ajax’ Dutch head-coach Erik ten Hag (R) reacts as he attends a training session, in Amsterdam, on October 22, 2019 on the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Chelsea. John THYS / AFP

 

Erik ten Hag insisted on Tuesday that his Ajax side have put last season’s Champions League heartbreak behind them as they prepare to take their blistering early-season form into an intriguing clash with Chelsea’s young guns.

The Dutch champions had a place in last season’s final snatched away from them with seconds to go by Tottenham Hotspur and lost star players Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt in the summer but it hasn’t put a stop to their re-emergence as a European force.

Ajax lead Group H after winning both their opening Champions League matches 3-0, against Lille and Valencia. They now go into a double-header with Chelsea with hopes they can repeat last season’s thrilling run, which saw them dump out Real Madrid and Juventus before falling to Spurs in the last four.

“We have to forget that (last season) now because we live in the future. We live now. And now we have to perform,” Ten Hag told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s match at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Ten Hag’s side look to have brushed off last year’s disappointment, as they are unbeaten in all competitions and top of the Eredivisie averaging more than three goals a game.

“Last year was last year, we’re building a new team … we start the season very well and now we have to step up and become game-to-game better,” added Ten Hag.

Standing in his side’s way in the next two group games is a rapidly developing Chelsea team that is packed with home-grown talent and on a run of five straight wins in all competitions.

Frank Lampard has reinvigorated a Blues side that lost Eden Hazard in the summer with players like Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham, with Callum Hudson-Odoi back in the mix after a long-term ankle injury.

“When I see them they want to play football, they want to play in the opponents’ half, they want to press high and they want to stay in the opponents’ half. That’s pretty similar to Ajax,” said Ten Hag.

“I think they want to go as far as we did, but of course we want to avoid that.”

Abraham has starred with eight goals in nine league appearances and got the opener in Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Lille, and is set to start at one of the homes of youth development.

“He’s doing very well at the moment, he’s a good striker,” said Ajax defender Daley Blind, a former Manchester United player.

“I’ll prepare myself as I always do, you have to defend not just against a striker but a whole team, and we attack as a team and defend like a team.”

AFP

Champions League: Youthful Chelsea Face Ajax Test

Newcastle United’s Dutch defender Jetro Willems (L) vies with Chelsea’s Canadian-born English defender Fikayo Tomori (R) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in London on October 19, 2019.
Oliver GREENWOOD / AFP

 

Chelsea’s young guns will test their run of form at one of the homes of youth development on Wednesday as they attempt to stop an Ajax team on course to replicate last season’s thrilling Champions League run.

The Blues are on a five-match winning streak in all-competitions after beating Newcastle United 1-0 at the weekend but come up against the Group H leaders in Amsterdam

Ajax are averaging over three goals a game at home and abroad and are hungry for European success after semi-final heartache last season.

Fikayo Tomori, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham all started Saturday’s win at Stamford Bridge, the first time since 2013 five English players made the London club’s starting XI.

They second on three points in Group H after a wobbly opening two games in the Champions League, with a pair of matches coming up against on-fire Ajax that could decide their European destiny.

“These two games against Ajax are really big because they’re such a strong team … The movement of the team and the way they play football will be a big test for us,” coach Frank Lampard told the Chelsea website on Monday.

Abraham has stolen the headlines with eight goals in nine league appearances and the opener in Chelsea’s 2-1 win in Lille, and Lampard called the 22-year-old a “sponge” for his capacity to learn.

“He wants to listen, to get better, to score more goals, improve his game and help his team-mates. He’s got the beautiful base of that in terms of coaching,” added Lampard.

However four of those Saturday starters are academy products who have flourished under new boss Lampard, who has dealt with the loss of Eden Hazard and a UEFA-imposed transfer ban by pushing the Premier League club’s youth products to centre stage.

Hudson-Odoi, who recently returned from a long-term ankle injury, was a constant menace with his bursts down the flank and it was the 18-year-old who teed up Marcos Alonso for the winning goal from a match in which Chelsea had 16 shots at goal and 72 per cent possession.

Ajax gunning for glory

It was also just the second time this season that Chelsea kept a clean sheet, and they did it without the injured Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, with 21-year-old Tomori proving an increasingly solid presence at the back.

Rudiger and Christensen are two of a string of Chelsea absentees which includes midfield lynchpin N’Golo Kante and another academy product Ruben Loftus-Cheek, with Barkley and Cesar Azpilicueta also doubts for Ajax.

Ajax’s remarkable form has led to rumours that coach Erik ten Hag is a potential Bayern Munich target, rumours that the 49-year-old refused to play down on Monday as Nico Kovac comes under fire in Germany.

Despite losing midfield dynamo Frenkie De Jong to Barcelona and defensive rock Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus, they are top of the Eredivisie and unbeaten after scoring 31 times in their opening 10 games, three points ahead of PSV Eindhoven and Vitesse Arnhem.

In fact Erik ten Hag’s side have hardly felt the effects of their departures, as the rising stars of Dutch football struggle to impose themselves in new countries.

They are also top of Group H after beating both Lille and Valencia 3-0 with the same brand of thrilling football that captured Europe’s imaginations last season.

However, although they reemerged as a European force thanks to their academy talent, their star turns this campaign are all outside discoveries, with Hakim Ziyech, David Neres and Dusan Tadic all in fine form and new signing Quincy Promes causing havoc from midfield.

The 26-year-old Ziyech’s incredible strike sent Ajax on their way at the Mestalla in their last Champions League match, while Promes, 27, scored in both Group matches and six times in the league.

Even 36-year-old Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is on fire, with five league goals in as many appearances, as they hunt their first European trophy in 25 years.

 

AFP

Police Arrest 100 Lille Fans Ahead Of Ajax Champions League Match

Lille’s French coach Christophe Galtier speaks during a press conference on September 16, 2019 at Johan Cruyff Arena, in Amsterdam on the eve of their UEFA Champions league football match Ajax FC vs Losc. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

 

Dutch police arrested at least 100 unruly Lille fans on Tuesday, ahead of the French club’s Champions League game against Ajax, for “disturbing the public order,” police said.

The supporters were arrested at a station close to the Johan Cruyff Arena hours ahead of the Group H match.

“Around 100 Lille supporters have been arrested in connection with disturbing the public order, setting off fireworks and violence,” Amsterdam police said in a tweet.

Supporters were also walking along the metro lines, forcing officials to halt rail traffic and evacuate two stations for a short while, the ANP national news agency reported.

Kickoff for the match is at 21.00 (1900 GMT).

AFP

How Kanu Stole The Show After Super Eagles Beat Bafana Bafana

 

Former captain of the Super Eagles, Nwankwo Kanu could not hold back from making a show of his joy over the victory of Nigeria in the quarterfinal game against South Africa. 

Just immediately after the referee blew the whistle, the former Arsenal and Inter Milan forward came down from the stands to show his support for the Super Eagles who defeated the Bafana Bafana by two goals to one.

In a short clip which Kanu shared on his official @papilokanu twitter page, the former Ajax striker could be seen cheering supporters at the Cairo International Stadium, with the fans chanting ‘Papilo! Papilo!!’.

READ ALSO: Two More Victories And We Are There, Buhari Tells Super Eagles

Below is the now viral video in which Kanu stole the show from the Super Eagles game on Wednesday.

Other Nigerian fans in Cairo were not left out of the show as some took to the streets singing and dancing in jubilation. On leaving the stadium, the Super Eagles were given a warm goodbye for their heroic performance, below is what it looked like.

Tottenham Beat Ajax 3-2 To Set Up All English Champions League Finals

Tottenham’s Brazilian forward Lucas (C) celebrates with teammate Tottenham’s Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen (L) after scoring a goal, as Ajax players react (R) during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur at the Johan Cruyff Arena, in Amsterdam, on May 8, 2019.

Lucas Moura scored a dramatic 96th-minute winner to cap a brilliant hat-trick as Tottenham fought back from three goals down on aggregate to stun Ajax 3-2 on Wednesday and set up a Champions League final against Liverpool.

After a 1-0 victory in London last week, Ajax appeared in total control after first-half goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech.

READ ALSO: Chelsea To Challenge FIFA’s Transfer Ban At CAS

But Moura scored twice in four second-half minutes before the Brazilian sent Spurs into only the second ever all-English final, against Liverpool in Madrid on June 1, on away goals with his last-gasp effort.

AFP

Champions League: Ajax Beat Tottenham In London

Ajax’s Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek (C) runs to celebrate with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London, on April 30, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Ajax closed in on a first Champions League final for 23 years as Donny van de Beek’s early goal beat an injury-hit Tottenham 1-0 in the first leg of their semi-final on Tuesday.

Van de Beek’s opener on 15 minutes was just rewarded for the Dutch side’s first-half dominance as Tottenham badly missed the presence of the injured Harry Kane and suspended Son Heung-min.

Tottenham improved after the break despite another injury blow as Jan Vertonghen had to be helped down the tunnel after a sickening head knock, but lacked the inspiration needed to get back on level terms without their two top scorers.

And Ajax could easily have had an even greater lead to take back to the Johan Cruyff Arena for the second leg next week when David Neres hit the post 10 minutes from time.

Ajax had shown they are not fazed on the road despite the tender age of many of their squad by shocking Real Madrid and Juventus away to reach the last four and started confidently.

Spurs were happy to sit deep and wait for their chances to counter-attack, but that gameplan was undone when Hakim Ziyech’s through ball picked out midfielder Van de Beek who took his time to leave Hugo Lloris prone before slotting into the bottom corner.

Lloris kept his side in the game 10 minutes later from another Van de Beek effort as Ajax threatened to run riot.

Fernando Llorente was the hero with the decisive goal as Mauricio Pochettino’s men upset the odds to end Manchester City’s quest for a quadruple of trophies in the quarter-finals.

However, the cumbersome Spaniard struggled to provide the out ball his side needed to relieve the Ajax pressure.

Set-pieces provided Tottenham’s best chance of scoring before the break as Llorente headed wide and Toby Alderweireld over from Kieran Trippier free-kicks.

 Spurs miss Kane and Son 

On top of Kane and Son, Spurs were shorn of the injured Erik Lamela and Harry Winks and lost another key player when Vertonghen came off worst as he contested a high ball with Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana.

The Belgian was patched up and briefly returned to the field before having to be helped down the tunnel with questions sure to be asked why the Spurs medical staff allowed him to continue.

Despite that latest blow, the hosts reacted well to end the half on top with Vertonghen’s replacement Moussa Sissoko driving a long-range effort wide.

Pochettino’s half-time pep talk had the desired effect as Spurs dug deep into their energy reserves to raise the tempo and intensity of their display after the break.

Yet, the quality needed in the final third to get back on level terms was missing without Kane and Son.

A sweetly struck shot Christian Eriksen shot that was too close to Onana was the best effort they could muster as too often hopeful crosses into the box failed to find a teammate.

Ajax did not make the most of their chances on the break to kill the tie off, but were unfortunate when Neres’s effort back across Lloris left the French captain helpless only for the ball to rebound kindly off the post.

Son will be back for the trip to Amsterdam next Wednesday and Spurs will hope the South Korean can repeat his double away to City in the last eight, but Ajax are in pole position for a final against Barcelona or Liverpool come June 1 in Madrid.

AFP

 

Spurs Missing Sissoko, Son And Kane For Ajax Semi-Final

Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker Son Heung-Min (C) and Tottenham Hotspur’s English defender Danny Rose attend a team training session at Tottenham Hotspur’s Enfield Training Centre, north London, on April 29, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko was only fit enough to return to the bench for the first leg of Spurs’ first Champions League semi-final since 1962 at home to Ajax on Tuesday.

Mauricio Pochettino is already without the injured Harry Kane, Erik Lamela and Harry Winks, while Son Heung-min is suspended.

However, the Argentine has insisted Spurs must grab the opportunity of a lifetime despite the draining effects of a long season on a short squad.

Pochettino’s back three of Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen all face their old side as does midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Without Kane and Son, Fernando Llorente leads the line with the support of Lucas Moura.

Ajax, by contrast, arrive in London injury free and have had a week to prepare after the entire Eredivisie calendar for last weekend was postponed to give them extra time to prepare.

Erik ten Hag makes just one change from the side that beat Juventus 2-1 in Turin to reach the last four for the first time since 1997 as Nicolas Tagliafico returns from suspension at left-back.

Tottenham (3-5-2)

Hugo Lloris (capt); Kieran Trippier, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, Danny Rose; Victor Wanyama, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli; Lucas Moura, Fernando Llorente

Coach: Mauricio Pochettino (ARG)

Ajax (4-2-3-1)

Andre Onana; Joel Veltman, Matthijs de Ligt (capt), Daley Blind, Nicolas Tagliafico; Lasse Schoene, Frenkie de Jong; Hakim Ziyech, Donny van de Beek, David Neres; Dusan Tadic

Coach: Erik Ten Hag

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)

AFP