Donny van de Beek's Goal Leads Ajax to Win vs. Tottenham in UCL Semi-Final

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2019

Ajax's Donny van de Beek celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Champions League semifinal first leg soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Ajax defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on the road to claim a first-leg advantage in their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.

Donny van de Beek broke the deadlock after only 15 minutes as Ajax flew out of the blocks, and the Dutch side should have further punished the Premier League team in a frantic first half.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino switched his tactics and formation as the interval approached, and the home team were much more effective after the restart.

Ajax failed to keep possession with the same conviction late in the game, but the visitors were celebrating at the final whistle.


Blame Pochettino for First-Leg Performance

(L-R) Moussa Sissoko of Tottenham Hotspur FC, Kieran Trippier of Tottenham Hotspur FC, Donny van de Beek of Ajax, Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham Hotspur FC during the UEFA Champions League semi final match between Tottenham Hotspur  FC and Ajax Amsterdam a
VI-Images/Getty Images
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In a match where Spurs needed to identify the threats on display, the Premier League side were wholly deficient in the first half.

Pochettino started the game with five at the back, and the Dutch team thoroughly exploited the space vacated by the hosts in midfield.

Ajax passed the ball around with precision and ease, and Spurs did not have the tactics to match their opponents.

Van de Beek's goal after 15 minutes was fully deserved. The strike came after yet another impressive passing move through the heart of the team.

Pochettino changed his formation towards the end of the first half after losing Jan Vertonghen to injury. The Belgian was substituted, and Spurs added a body to the midfield as Moussa Sissoko entered from the bench.

Sports broadcaster Stan Collymore highlighted Ajax's early dominance at half-time:

The visitors could not maintain their tempo in the second half, and Spurs began to edge their way back into the contest.

However, the lack of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son was evident, and Pochettino's men were toothless as they chased an equaliser.

It was a frustrating display by Spurs but they will get a chance for redemption in the second leg.

Christian Eriksen was critical of his team's performance and said Spurs made it easy for Ajax:

Ajax have proved their elite credentials in the Champions League, and they have one foot in the final after scoring the away goal.

Spurs will be forced to attack with intensity in the return leg but maintain a fighting chance of clawing their way back into the tie.


What's Next

The second leg of the semi-final will take place in Amsterdam on Wednesday, May 8. Spurs are set to be in Premier League action at Bournemouth on Saturday, and Ajax face Willem II in the KNVB cup final on Sunday.