Spurs were beaten 1-0 by Ajax in the first-leg of the Champions League semi-final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday April 30th. An early goal from Donny van de Beek gave the Dutch side a comfortable victory in north London. The two sides will meet again for the second-leg in Amsterdam on Wednesday May 8th .
Ajax started the game strongly and took a deserved lead in the 15th minute. Hakim Ziyech threaded a pass through to Van de Beek who slotted past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to put his side ahead.
They almost doubled their lead in the 24th minute. Dusan Tadic combined with Van de Beek to put the latter through on goal, but his shot from a tight angle was saved by Lloris when he had David Neres free in the middle.
The London side almost equalised minutes later as Fernando Llorente headed wide from Kieran Trippier’s free kick. At the half hour mark, Jan Vertonghen suffered what looked like a serious head injury after a collision with teammate Toby Alderweireld. The Belgian defender was taken off the pitch to be treated and attempted to continue. He signalled to the bench moments later and was replaced by Moussa Sissoko.
The introduction of the Frenchman seemed to inspire the home side as Alderweireld headed inches over from Trippier’s free kick soon after. Just before half-time Sissoko fired a shot wide just as the Lilywhites ended the first-half strongly.
Tottenham picked up right where they left off after the break. Dele Alli had a goal-bound shot blocked by Matthijs de Ligt seconds into the second half. The 23-year-old had a volley saved by goalkeeper Andre Onana before heading over from Trippier’s cross just before the hour mark.
The visitors were inches from scoring their second goal in the 78th minute. Substitute Noussair Mazraoui ran into the area before finding Tadic, who slipped the ball through to Neres, whose shot came off the post. The hosts failed to threaten late on as Ajax held on for a deserved victory.
Reuters reported that Tottenham head coach, Mauricio Pochettino, spoke after the game and blamed himself for his side’s poor performance. "The attitude was there but we didn't find a way to play." He continued, “We didn't show the energy that we wanted to show. They showed more energy than us. The way we conceded the goal was painful. They were more proactive than us. Our approach to the game was not good. I am the manager so I have responsibility."
But the Argentine boss was also optimistic about his team’s chances in Amsterdam. "We pushed them to play deeper (in the second half). We started to press in the way we wanted to press. The second half has given us the hope for the second leg," he said.
Reuters reported that Ajax head coach, Erik ten Hag, said his players “fought like lions” during the game. “A fantastic achievement. We fought like lions," the 49-year-old said. "I think it's an excellent result for us. We won the game. We are satisfied. We have a very good starting point, but we're only halfway through. We can play football in different styles. We can defend very well. We have a team that works together really well; they can fight together really well."