Football Features

Tottenham 0-1 Ajax: Every player rated as Van de Beek adds to Tottenham misery

By William Eldridge

Published: 22:09, 30 April 2019

Tottenham Hotspur lost 1-0 at home to Ajax in the Champions League semi-final first leg in a performance that lacked any real quality from the hosts. 

The visitors started the game far brighter than Mauricio Pochettino’s side and justly got their reward when Donny van de Beek placed his effort beyond Hugo Lloris to grab Ajax a vital away goal.

Erik Ten Hag’s team continued to showcase beautiful football – both on and off the ball – causing Spurs headaches as the score remained the same at half-time.

Spurs reverted to a back four and looked more direct at the start of the second half. They had more of the ball but they were limited to a few half chances. David Neres hit the post for Ajax as Spurs pushed forward but the Premier League outfit couldn’t find a way through a strong Ajax defence.

The result means Spurs have it all to do in the second leg, with Ajax taking both a clean sheet and an away goal with them back to the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Here are the player ratings from Tottenham Hotspur’s poor 1-0 loss to a fantastically organised Ajax.

Tottenham Hotspur 

Hugo Lloris – 6 – A big night for the Tottenham captain but he couldn’t do anything about Ajax’s opening strike. Saved well from Van de Beek to deny him his second. Had a quieter second half.

Kieran Trippier – 3 – Struggled at the start of the match with the movement of the Ajax attack with David Neres, in particular, causing him headaches. Sometimes getting forward, the England international’s crossing left a lot to be desired, regularly putting his crosses into no man’s land. So many potential opportunities wasted via Trippier’s right boot. Subbed.

Danny Rose – 6 – Rose looked aggressive and frustrated with both himself and his side but looked more determined than Trippier on the opposite flank. He will be disappointed at being the closest man to Van de Beek for his goal. Was more of an attacking threat as the game went on. Subbed.

Toby Alderweireld – 6 – Three central defenders and Spurs still couldn’t deny Ajax space for the opening goal. Lost his international teammate to injury and reverted back into a centre-back pairing with Sanchez. Missed Tottenham’s only real chance in the first half, a free header that flew over the crossbar. Had the ball at his feet rather than any defensive work later on but still looked vulnerable to the Ajax counter.

Jan Vertonghen – 6 – The Belgian struggled to cope with Ajax’s frontline but his evening ended abruptly following a nasty headinjury. Despite initially being cleared to continue, the defender eventually was forced off the pitch. Subbed.

Davinson Sanchez – 6 – The former Ajax man couldn’t help keep West Ham at bay last weekend and once again saw Spurs concede at their new stadium. Made himself available for possession along the backl but like Real Madrid and Juventus before him, was second best to Ajax’s frontline.

Victor Wanyama – 6 – Normally so strong and composed in the Spurs midfield, Wanyama looked second best compared to Barca-bound De Jong. Improved in the second half with Spurs offered more space, he worked well off Sissoko’s energy to drive Tottenham forward.

Dele Alli – 5 – Personified Tottenham’s attacking threat early on, struggling to get himself involved in the game. Got more involved in the second 45, having a decent effort well-saved and a header floating over the bar. However, the England man will be the first to admit that he didn’t perform to any effectiveness for his side.

Christian Eriksen – 6 – So often the creator for Spurs, Eriksen couldn’t find any time or space. When he did have possession, his teammates couldn’t put themselves in a position for him to pick them out.

Fernando Llorente – 6 – A big night for Llorente who was tasked with taking the place of Tottenham’s main strikers. He won several headers but the Spaniard has his limitations in a less direct Tottenham style. A lack of anticipation limited efforts but he got himself more involved as the minutes ticked by and for a while looked like Spurs’ most likely man to create something.

Lucas Moura – 4 – Moura was put on the pitch to liven up the Spurs attack but such was Ajax’s pressure, he was pushed further and further back and played little part in the opening exchanges. Produced a moment of good skill to create space for a cross but was ultimately disappointing. Uninspired.

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Substitutions

Moussa Sissoko – 7 – On for the injured Vertonghen, Spurs fans needed the midfielder to provide a much-needed energy boost to their evening’s work. Had an instant impact, using his strength to knock Ajax players off the ball, almost scoring a rocket before half-time. His presence changed Tottenham’s shape and gave them far more confidence in going forward.

Ben Davies – N/A – On for Rose, had no chance to affect matters.

Juan Foyth – N/A – Taking the place of Trippier, like Davies, had little time.

Ajax

André Onana – 6 – The talented shot-stopper was rarely tested by Spurs but took command in the penalty area, resulting in a nasty injury to Vertonghan. Time-wasting tactics ignored by the referee, Onana had a relatively slow evening.

Joël Veltman – 7 – Organised and composed, Veltman produced a great challenge on Lucas as he ran into the Ajax penalty area. Enjoyed a battling evening with Danny Rose on the left. Booked for an obvious pull-back on Alli.

Matthijs de Ligt – 7 – You can never use too many positive adjectives to describe this young defender and he, once again, looked like one of the most experienced players on the pitch. You can see why other clubs are interested. A calming influence on older teammates. A great evening’s work.

Daley Blind – 6 – The former Red Devil had a battle with Llorente with the Spurs man winning most headers. However, Blind’s mobility was better than the centre-forwards, getting to the ball more often than not. Worked well with De Ligt to tightening up as the match went on.

Nicolás Tagliafico – 6 – The Argentine got forward to support the Ajax cause without leaving himself exposed. Took on more defensive duties as Spurs pushed on but looked content with his role. Booked for a silly tackle on Eriksen.

Lasse Schöne – 6 – His job was to sit deep but such was Tottenham’s lack of attacking intent, he was able to push further forward and help inflict damage. Was quieter in the second half until he was substituted.

Frenkie De Jong – 8 – Never seems to be sprinting too hard yet is always in the right place at the right time. The man off to Barcelona in the summer covered his defence at every opportunity and really showcased his intelligence in positioning and passing ability.

Donny van de Beek – 8 – A dominating start for Ajax resulted in the attacking midfielder putting his side 1-0 up inside 15 minutes. Finding space in between the Spurs defenders, the 22-year-old had all the time in the world to put the ball beyond Lloris into the bottom left corner. Great composure. Should have set up Neres for their second but had a shot saved instead.

David Neres – 8 – His movement from the off frightened the back five of Tottenham. He found plenty of space and was able to work the ball around and across the box on many occasions. Was so unlucky not to score as his effort hit the post.

Hakim Ziyech – 7 – Like Neres, Ziyech looked lively, continuously finding space in the final third and inflicting damage. That damage resulted in a tidy assist for Van de Beek in the first half. Lively, classy, effective. Subbed.

Dušan Tadić – 7 – The former Saint was certainly no sinner with his movement and link up play, coming deep and sitting high, pulling Spurs’ defence out of shape and creating space for his teammates. Faded as the game turned more defensive for Ajax but was always ready to pounce.

Substitutions

Noussair Mazraoui – 6 – On with roughly 30 minutes to play, the youngster produced a tidy performance.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – 6 – A late arrival with Ajax running down the clock, the experienced forward had little time to contribute.

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