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Chelsea vs Ajax: Blues recover 3-goal deficit amidst VAR chaos

Eight goals, two own-goals, two red cards and one VAR interruption, UEFA Champions League 2019-20 Chelsea vs Ajax match had everything but a winner.

SNS | New Delhi |

VAR was the winner in the UEFA Champions League 2019-20 group tie between Chelsea and Ajax at the Stamford Bridge on Tuesday which had eight goals, two red cards and more drama than anyone could imagine.

Tammy Abraham, the goal-scoring machine of Chelsea, netted the first goal of the day in the second minute but unfortunately, it was at his own end.

A foul from Azpilicueta saw Ajax earning a free-kick near the touchline. The ball was floated in by Quincy Promes and before it could find anyone it was meant to Abraham sent it to his own goal.

It took the hosts two minutes to equalise as their new US sensation Christian Pulisic earned a penalty. Jorginho converted it with ease to give the game a wild and entertaining start.

Desperate to win and get one of their feet to the knockout stage, both the sides played an attacking game and looked for chances in the opponent’s box. But it was Ajax who looked more determined to take the lead again.

Rightly so, the visitors drew the next blood when Hakim Ziyech played a cross in the 20th minute towards Chelsea’s six-yard area and Promes headed it in in an open goal.

However, a one-goal lead did not deter the Dutch side from looking for more. Another Ziyech-freekick and another own goal from Frank Lampard’s Londoners meant Ajax thanking their stars and the hosts cursing theirs. This time the victim was Chelsea skipper Azpilicueta.

The crowd at the bridge waited with great anticipation and hoped for a miraculous comeback as the home team went inside the tunnel trailing 1-3 at the break.

The fate of the match looked all sealed when Donny van de Beek struck the ball he had received from Ziyech past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 55th minute to extend his team’s lead to three goals.

With two goals in the opening four minutes, two own-goals in the first-half and the visitors leading 4-1, the jubilant Stamford Bridge crowd had already witnessed enough drama for the day.

But little did they know the real chaos had not started yet and what followed in the last 30 minutes of the match is something that shall be etched forever in grasses and the stands of the Bridge.

Lampard replaced Mason Mount with Callum Hudson-Odoi and the Blues went about in their desperate quest for redemption. Azpilicueta finally got one back for the home team when he netted the ball off a deflection from the bar much like he had scored the own-goal.

The match turned completely on its head when Ajax found themselves down to nine men in a span of two minutes. Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were shown their second yellow card of the day amidst a great show of dispute by the touring players.

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Ajax’s players react after Ajax’s Dutch defender Joel Veltman (2nd R) is shown a red card by Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi during the UEFA Champion’s League Group H football match between Chelsea and Ajax at Stamford Bridge in London on November 5, 2019. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

Blind had dived in late on Abraham but the referee continued the game and the resulting shot appeared to have hit Veltman inside the box. The official then handed the card to both the defenders and in a flash Ajax were short of their two central defenders.

Jorginho converted another one and the crowd’s dream of a miraculous comeback by the home team at the Stamford Bridge was on. Reece James netted the equaliser for the Lampard-managed team when Zouma’s header deflected off the bar in the 74th minute.

The game continued with the same intensity as Chelsea pushed their nine-men opponents harder. Five minutes shy of the regulation time, Azpilicueta seemed to have snatched one of the most memorable victories for Chelsea when he found the net with Abraham’s delivery.

But the VAR showed there was a hand-ball involved in the run-up to the delivery in the 78th minute and the climax of the game concluded in an anti-climax as well.

With five minutes of stoppage time, the wildfire at the Bridge finally seemed to cool down as the match that had eight goals, two own-goals, two red cards and one VAR interruption failed to find a winner.

With the draw, Chelsea and Ajax remain the first and the second team, respectively, in Group H with seven points from four games. Valencia, too, share the same number of points after they defeated Lille 4-1.