Tottenham were faced with a setback in their Champions League quest after Ajax defeat in the first leg of the semi-final tie.
Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek’s 15th-minute goal,past Hugo Lloris from close range to put Erik ten Hag’s side firmly in the driving seat going into the second leg in Amsterdam next Wednesday.
Spurs struggled to overcome the absence of forwards Harry Kane and Son Heung-min injured and suspended respectively and their job was made even harder by the loss of Defender Jan Vertonghen after he suffered a facial injury in the first half.
Vertonghen’s problem raised questions about player welfare after he was allowed to continue, albeit for only a few seconds, when he was clearly badly shaken up after an aerial collision involving team-mate Toby Alderweireld and Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. He eventually had to be supported by two members of the Spurs staff as he went off in pains.
Tottenham tried to force the pace after the break with plenty of possession, but it was Ajax who came close to adding a second when David Neres struck the inside of the post with Lloris beaten.
The burden fell on to Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, along with Lucas Moura, but they were simply unable to trouble Ajax on a night of pure frustration for manager Mauricio Pochettino, his players and the supporters who packed this arena and backed their team superbly
Ajax boss Erik ten Hag said: “Winning 1-0 at Tottenham is an amazing result. We have to learn lessons from tonight, and next week we have to finish it.
“It’s an excellent result. We won, we are satisfied – but we are only halfway through. If you want to get to the final, you have to improve – everyday we want to get better.
“We’re good at defence too. We can play football in different styles, defend really well. I am satisfied.”
The Premier League side are still not out of this tie, and if their Champions League run to the last four has proved anything, it is that they must never be discounted.
Ajax held on to their lead in relative comfort and it will need a n extraordinary performance for Spurs comeback to prevent the Dutch side facing either Barcelona or Liverpool in the final on 1 June.
By Kayode Oniwinde