Chelsea staged an unbelievable comeback to draw 4-4 with nine-man Ajax in a crazy match at Stamford Bridge in the UEFA Champions League.
The game begun at a frantic pace as both sides exchanged goals; Tammy Abraham putting through his own net before Jorginho equalised from the spot.
The Amsterdam outfit took control after that and were ahead on the 20-minute mark as a wonderful cross from Hakim Ziyech allowed Quincy Promes to nod home. The wideman was also key to their third as his audacious free-kick bounced off of the far post, eventually finding the net via a touch from Kepa, with Donny van de Beek notching a fourth with a lethal finish from inside the area.
It got even crazier as Frank Lampard’s men rallied. First, Cesar Azpilicueta hauled them back into the tie as he converted at the back post. Their cause was massively helped as both Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were sent off for two bookable offences – the latter for a handball in the area. Jorginho reduced the deficit even further as he scored the resultant penalty.
Drama continued to rise as substitute Reece James came off the bench to net a dramatic equaliser. Chelsea thought they had got level through Azpilicueta but VAR intervened, restricting both sides to a point apiece.
Two early goals at Stamford Bridge
It was a frantic start in the capital as Ajax stole an early march. Awarded a free-kick on the left-flank, the ball was whipped into the penalty area, with Abraham getting the telling touch to divert it past Kepa and into his own net.
The visitors’ lead did not last long though as Chelsea went straight onto the attack. The in-form Christian Pulisic charged into the penalty area and was taken down via a rash challenge, resulting in a penalty kick. Jorginho assumed responsibility and used his trademark technique to put the Blues back on level terms.
Ziyech magic puts it on a plate for Promes
A piece of individual brilliance from Ziyech saw Ajax actually reclaim the lead. Faced with a solid block of Chelsea defender’s, the Moroccan played a stunning left-footed cross into the box that Promes stooped low to guide home with his head.
He was at the heart of play again as Ajax then extended their lead. Standing over a free-kick tight to the right flank, he whipped in another dangerous ball that completely outfoxed Kepa. It hit the far post, bounced off of the Spanish goalkeeper and then nestled into the back of the net.
Ajax out of sight but Azpilicueta has his say
Chelsea started impressively after the break and Abraham twice had opportunities to haul them back into the match but on both occasions was denied by Andre Onana. Substitute Reece James also had is far post effort blocked.
Despite their momentum, the game was seemingly finished as a well-worked move from Ajax saw van de Beek control yet another Ziyech centre. With his second touch, he drilled the ball underneath Kepa.
The goals continued to come though and Chelsea gave themselves a lifeline as Pulisic’s cross was touched on by Abraham. That carried it into the path of Azpilicueta at the back post, with the Spaniard just getting enough on the ball to tuck it home.
Barmy ending in the capital
With 20 minutes left of the game, it really did get crazy. Having both been booked in the first-half, Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were sent off, the former for a challenge on Abraham and the latter for a handball in the penalty area. The resultant spot-kick took a long time to be awarded but Jorginho stayed cool to reduce the deficit to only one.
Only minutes later, Chelsea were level. From a corner, Abraham thought he had struck, only to see the ball bounce back off of the crossbar. It only served to fall to defender James and he made no mistake to hammer the ball home.
They thought they had got a priceless winner as Azpilicueta netted again but VAR ruled the goal out for a handball.
There were late opportunities for both sides to get a winner but both Onana and Kepa were forced into relatively comfortable saves. The Cameroonian then produced a fantastic stop to deny Michy Batshuayi and ensure both sides notched a point.
This football match really did have everything – penalties, goals, red cards and drama. Nobody would have predicted Chelsea to secure a draw when they were three goals behind. However, they have to be praised for displaying serious character when faced with adversity. Ajax were clinical on the day and but for their red cards could have left Stamford Bridge with an impressive win. Chelsea and Ajax now sit first and second respectively in the table.
Chelsea: Kepa (6); Alonso (5) (James (7), 45′), Tomori (6), Zouma (7), Azpilicueta (7); Kovacic (7) (Batshuayi (N/A), 87′), Jorginho (7); Pulisic (7), Mount (6) (Hudson-Odoi (6), 60′), Willian (6); Abraham (7).
Ajax: Onana (6); Tagliafico (6), Blind (5), Veltman (4), Mazraoui (6); Martinez (6), van de Beek (7); Promes (8), Ziyech (9) (Alvarez (6), 72′), Neres (6) (Schuurs (6), 72′); Tadic (6).
Goals: Abraham OG (2′), Jorginho (PEN 4′, PEN 71′), Promes (20′), Kepa OG (35′), de Beek (55′), Azpilicueta (63′, 78′), James (74′)
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi
Yellow Cards: Veltman (31′, 69′), Blind (33′, 68′), Tomori (42′), Azpilicueta (45′), Promes (62′)
Red Cards: Blind (68′), Veltman (69′)
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