By Ayodele Ayelomi
Ajax of Amsterdam continued its giant-killing run in the European Champions League with a deserved 1-0 win at Tottenham, in the London side’s new stadium courtesy of a solitary goal scored early in the encounter.
The Dutch side, who last reached the final in 1996 moved ever closer to making another final after 23 years with a performance reminiscent of that legendary 1995-96 set.
Erik ten Haag’s side started the game with their usual confidence, playing without fear while strutting the ball around and making the pitch bigger. Their fearless approach paid off when they took the lead through one of their many youngsters, Donny van de Beek on fifteen minutes.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who is a mainstay of a Dutch side that has scored at least once in 13 of 14 UCL games this season, and against every opponent since the group stage, controlled Hakim Ziyech’s defence-splitting pass to slot beyond Hugo Lloris for a well-deserved goal.
Ten minutes later, it should’ve been two, but van de Beek went for glory and was thwarted by Lloris, who saved the low shot with his leg at the near post.
Tottenham, changed to a 4-4-2 formation with the introduction of midfielder, Moussa Sissoko, for injured defender, Jan Verthongen, and matching their visitors in gegenpressing, regained control of the game, especially from set pieces.
Fernando Llorente, hero at Man City in the Quarter finals, and Toby Alderwiereld both headed agonizingly wide from deep free kicks, while Sissoko blasted wide in first half added time.
The Lillywhites increased the tempo after the interval and Dele Alli, who had only eight touches in the first half, was presented two opportunities five minutes apart, but he sent a volley straight at Onana, and headed wide after another well-worked move.
The young and dynamic Dutch side has not lost away from home in this UCL season, and they maintained their record with a steely display in defence, holding out against a desperately inefficient Spurs side who looked like they missed the presence of influential forwards, Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son.
Ajax, hit the post late in the game to put the tie to rest, and they look like they would surely do in the second leg next week Wednesday.