Chelsea earn spectacular draw
Chelsea staged a dramatic comeback from being 4-1 down to secure a vital point in the Champions League against Ajax in a dramatic night of football at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
The reigning Dutch champions, who reached the semi-finals last season, took a three-goal lead 10 minutes into the second half when Donny van de Beek scored their fourth, but in a chaotic spell, Chelsea pulled three goals back as the visitors lost their composure.
The home team had gone into the game as strong favourites with sports betting companies, but at 4-1 down on 55 minutes, they seemed beaten.
However, César Azpilicueta came up with a close-range strike to make the score 4-2, and the game then changed dramatically in a spell of action on the 68th minute.
First, Ajax’s Daley Blind committed a foul against Blues striker Tammy Abraham, and when referee Gianluca Rocchi waved play on, a shot hit the arm of Joël Veltman in the penalty area.
Rocchi gave a penalty to Chelsea, which was calmly scored by Jorginho, before going back to give a second yellow card to Blind and then sending off Veltman for the handball.
That burst of drama set up a frenetic conclusion to the game, and substitute Reece James, who at the age of 19 became Chelsea’s youngest Champions League goal scorer, grabbed the equaliser when he reacted first to a header from Kurt Zouma that rebounded off the bar.
There were still 16 minutes to go at that stage, and with the Chelsea crowd roaring their side on, they nearly claimed a winner, but Azpilicueta’s goal was ruled out because Abraham handled the ball.
The ending to the game was the mirror of its beginning, which had featured a brace of goals in four minutes, with Abraham accidentally directing a Quincy Promes free-kick past his own goalkeeper before Jorginho levelled the game from the penalty spot following a foul on Christian Pulisic.
Ajax regained the lead when Promes scored with a header from a well-placed cross from Hakim Ziyech, and Ziyech also played a major role in the third goal when his free kick, taken from a tight angle, rebounded off the post and the face of Kepa Arrizabalaga on its way into the net.
The draw means that Group H is finely balanced with Chelsea, Ajax and Valencia all on seven points, while Lille are bottom of the group with just one point.
Words: Man Ngo