Ajax joined Liverpool, Juventus and Bayern Munich as qualifiers for the next stage of the Champions League thanks to a 3-1 comeback win at 10-man Borussia Dortmund.
Goals from Dusan Tadic, Sebastien Haller and Davy Klaassen won it for Erik ten Hag’s side after hosts Dortmund had gone a man down and a goal up in an eventful first half.
An interesting and tactical start to the game took a huge turn with half an hour gone when Mats Hummels was dismissed for a sliding challenge – a decision that was controversially upheld after a VAR review.
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And VAR was heavily involved again just minutes later after referee Michael Oliver initially waved away penalty appeals by Jude Bellingham, and then signalled check over after a VAR review, only to be subsequently called to the pitch-side monitor after an alternative angle of the foul was seen.
Up stepped Marco Reus to open the scoring for Dortmund, and 1-0 it remained until half-time, with both sets of players unhappy with the officials going into the break.
Ajax struggled to make the most of the man advantage during a sloppy second-half showing, but the goal did finally come from captain Tadic, who turned a deep cross home at the far post before colliding with the woodwork in a fashion that took the wind out of his sails during the celebration.
And ten-man Dortmund’s brave resistance was finally ended with seven minutes of normal time remaining, with Antony picking up his second assist of the night, crossing for Haller to head home. Klaassen made the game safe in injury time. The result means Ajax have won four from four in Group C and are confirmed as qualifiers for the knockout stages.
Talking Point – Michael Oliver the unwanted star
It was not a great night for the officials in Dortmund.
The original red card decision was wrong. The VAR call to uphold it was wrong. The original decision to not give a penalty was wrong. The VAR decision to say ‘check over’ was wrong.
That both teams will end this match unhappy with the referee says a lot.
Man of the Match – Antony (Ajax)
For a long while it was Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham who stood out as the best player on the pitch. But, the figure who proved the difference in the end was Ajax’s Brazilian wide man Antony.
The rest of his team were struggling to click into gear and lacking quality in the final third to punish Dortmund’s man disadvantage.
But no such complaints could be levelled at Antony, who set up all three goals with excellent crosses to sink Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund: Kobel 7; Meunier 6, Hummels 5, Akanji 6; Wolf 5, Witsel 7, Bellingham 9, Hazard 6; Reus 7, Tigges 6, Brandt 5. Subs: Pongracic, Malen, Passlack, Knauff
Ajax: Pasveer 7; Mazraoui 7, Timber 7, Martínez 7, Blind 6; Álvarez 7, Beghuis 6, Gravenberch 7; Antony 9, Haller 8, Tadic 7. Subs: Klaassen 7, Kudus 6.
8’ – Huge chance for Dortmund out of absolutely nothing. There seems to be no danger as a long ball floats towards Martinez, but he slips at precisely the wrong time and all Pasveer can do is palm the ball away as he rushes out to deny a goalscoring opportunity. Hazard does well to keep the move alive and clip in a cross with the 'keeper still out of position, and he picks out Bellingham, only for the teenager to glance a header wide of the far post with the goal gaping.
29’ – RED CARD!? The referee waves a straight red in the direction of Mats Hummels after a lunging challenge out on the touchline. VAR is taking a look at this.
31’ – The decision stands, much to the disbelief of Hummels, who slowly makes his way from the field shaking his head. I have to say that’s a strange one, was it for the dangerous nature of the lunge? Maybe. That’ll be the justification probably. But it wasn’t that sort of tackle in my view.
34’ – Bellingham jinks into the box but no penalty is given. The midfielder is frustrated and so are the home crowd, but Michael Oliver is not having it.
35’ – Hang on. It was announced that the check was over but now the referee is over by the screen. This could be a penalty here, Bellingham had his heel clipped.
36’ –PENALTY GIVEN! Ajax are furious, the screen in the ground and referee said the check was over. But the right point has finally been reached, even if it was via a ridiculous path.
37’ – GOAL! Reus steps up and converts from the spot. 1-0 to ten-man Dortmund!
72’ – GOAL! The equaliser finally comes and it’s Tadic who’s got it! Antony fizzes in a great cross and the captain turns it home before crashing into the post with a leg either side… (ouch!). It makes for a rather x-rated celebration as he clutches ‘himself’ in recovery. But the goal is what really matters. 1-1.
83’ – GOAL! Ajax get the goal and it’s Haller! The big forward floats into space in the box and dispatches a lovely header from Antony’s cross. 2-1.
93’ – GOAL! Klaassen rubs salt into the wounds with a third goal for Ajax to wrap up the win. 3-1.
Stats and Facts
- Ajax are the first Dutch side in Champions League history to win each of the first four group games in the competition.
- This was Dortmund’s first Champions League loss at home in 11 matches, a run that dates back to the visit of Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur in 2017.
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