Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to secure a late UEFA Champions League victory for Chelsea over Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday evening.
In what was a hard-fought affair, the hosts thought they had claimed the lead in the first-half but Quincy Promes’ goal was chalked out by VAR for offside. Chances were a rarity throughout the 90 minutes but Frank Lampard’s men struck when it counted most as Batshuayi powered home Christian Pulisic’s cross late in the day to secure a crucial three points for the Blues.
Tight offside call sees Promes strike ruled out
It was a slow burning game throughout the majority of the first-half with Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana making the only real stop as he parried away Mason Mount’s low effort. Callum Hudson-Odoi should then probably have done better as the ball fell to him in the penalty area but he could only skew his volley wide.
Supporters inside the Amsterdam ArenA thought an opening goal had eventually come in somewhat fortunate circumstances. Hakim Ziyech’s cross was deflected towards Promes at the back post, with Dutchman tapping home. However, the strike was ruled out by VAR due to a tight offside call.
Lack of attacking quality
Chances continued to be at a premium in the second-half with Edson Alvarez going closest to scoring without actually causing the net to bulge. From a corner, the Mexican leapt at the front post and his flicked header kissed the outside of the post.
One of the few real chances that the Blues had of the second period was via substitute Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian latched onto Christian Pulisic’s deflected shot and with only Onana in his way, looked sure to open the scoring. He somehow blazed the ball over crossbar though, allowing the hosts to breathe a deep sigh of relief.
Pulisic also had his own opportunity in the closing stages as he drifted infield but sliced his low shot wide of the Ajax goal.
Batshuayi redeems shocking miss
Chelsea did eventually break Ajax’s stubborn resistance and it was Batshuayi who got on the scoresheet. Combining with Pulisic, the Belgian found room in the penalty area to fire home his teammate’s cross off of the bottom of the crossbar and into the net to secure what could be a key result for Chelsea as they aim to qualify for the knockout rounds.
Quality really was lacking throughout this game, with both sides struggling to create clear-cut chances. Having said that, Chelsea probably did deserve to take the win. Their youngsters put in a thoroughly professional showing and marshalled Ajax extremely well. Despite not creating all too many opportunities, they hit the front at the vital moment and now claim top spot in Group H ahead of the return leg at Stamford Bridge in a couple of weeks’ time.
Ajax: Onana (7); Tagliafico (6), Blind (6), Veltman (7) (de Jong (N/A), 89′), Dest (6); Martinez (7), Alvarez (6) (Huntelaar (N/A), 89′); Promes (6) (Neres (5), 74′), van de Beek (6), Ziyech (5); Tadic (5).
Chelsea: Kepa (6); Alonso (6), Zouma (7), Tomori (6), Azpilicueta (6); Kovacic (6), Jorginho (7); Hudson-Odoi (6) (James (N/A), 90′), Mount (6), Willian (5) (Pulisic (7), 66′); Abraham (5) (Batshuayi (7), 71′).
Goals: Batshuayi (86′)
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan
Yellow Cards: Tadic (49′), Martinez (65′), Zouma (84′)
Red Cards: N/A
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