Semifinals in the Champions League
:Ajax Amsterdam creates the next sensation
The young star ensemble of Ajax Amsterdam has also disenchanted the Tottenham Hotspur and faces its first Champions League final since 1996. The Dutch football champions won on Tuesday the semi-final first leg of the premier class at Spurs with 1-0 (1 : 0) and is now the clear favorite for the final on 1 June in Madrid in the return leg next Wednesday. Donny van de Beek scored the winner in the 15th minute. In the second semi-final, Liverpool will play with coach Jrgen Klopp on Wednesday (21.00 / DAZN and Sky) with FC Barcelona and superstar Lionel Messi.
“We want to play ourselves and dictate the game,” Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino had said just before the match on TV channel Sky. However, he had to do without in one of the most important European Cup games Spurs club history on his two best scorers. The England captain Harry Kane was missing injured, the former Bundesliga professional Heung-Min Son had to pause yellow-blocked.
The game dominated in the initial phase, however, the guest. As in the triumphs over holders Real Madrid or Juventus Turin and Cristiano Ronaldo Ajax shone with breathtaking tempo football. Far in the opposite half, the Dutch youngsters put the Spurs under pressure, had much more possession and shone with interesting combinations.
Ajax could have been even higher
One of these relay led after a quarter of an hour to the leadership. Hakim Ziyech played free for van de Beek and the 22-year-old kept his cool in front of Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, hesitated, fooled – and sent the French national team into the left corner with a placed shot. Nine minutes later, van de Beek even had the 0-2 on the foot, but Lloris parried (24.).
For the first time for danger before the Ajax gate provided Tottenham in the 26th minute. After a free kick by Christian Eriksen headed the Spanish attacker Fernando Llorente but next to the goal. The Spurs, who were already in a strong position in the last sixteen, had thrown Borussia Dortmund out of the competition, tightened again five minutes before the break.
After a collision with Ajax goalkeeper Andr Onana and his teammate Toby Alderweireld remained Tottenham defensive giant Jan Vertonghen lying with a bleeding wound. After a long treatment and a fresh jersey, he first tried to continue playing, but then had to be replaced visibly dazed (39.).
The first European semi-final for 57 years
In his first European semi-final since 57 years, the Premier League club has surprisingly managed its strongest phase to date. Especially in stoppage time of the first half Tottenham came several times dangerously close to the Ajax gate. Alderweireld’s header went over (45. + 4), substitute Moussa Sissoko for Vertonghen tried it from distance (45. + 5).
By way of exception, the Amsterdam defense of Matthijs de Ligt, at 19 years and 261 days, the youngest captain, who ever stood in a Champions League semi-final, seemed vulnerable in this scene. A few seconds after the restart, the Dutch champions were lucky that Llorente hesitated too long in a good position (46 ‘).
Tottenham increases in the second half
Coach Erik ten Hag, who was in charge of FC Bayern’s second team for two years, gestured on the sideline and called for his professionals to be more aggressive. But the Spurs were now more dangerous. Ajax clock Frenkie De Jong (21), who moves to FC Barcelona this summer for € 75m, could not conduct the match as usual and as requested by ten Hag.
Instead of conjuring in front of the opponent’s goal, the Dutch had to vigorously defend their own. Until the first interesting attack in the second half, it took until the 78th minute. This would have almost brought the 0: 2; David Neres hit only the post. Tottenham coach Pochettino brought two fresh powers to Juan Foyth and Ben Davies ten minutes before the end of the match, though they did not manage to equalize despite the significant increase in power. (AP)