Champions League: Chelsea fight back to draw with nine-man Ajax

Chelsea and nine-man Ajax played out a remarkable 4-4 draw as the Blues roared back from 4-1 down and were denied a late winner by VAR.

After winning nine of their last 10 games, Chelsea were left stunned by as the visitors ruthlessly went 4-1 up inside 55 minutes.

Tammy Abraham netted an early own goal in the 2nd minute before Jorginho converted from the spot (4mins). But two goals before half-time from Quincy Promes (20) and another own goal from Kepa Arrizabalaga (35), put Ajax in control. While Donny van de Beek (55) extended the lead after the break.

Cesar Azpilicueta started the comeback to make it 2-4 (63). But the game turned on its head in 60 seconds of high drama in the 68th minute when Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were both sent off for second yellow cards.

Daley Blind fouled Blues striker Tammy Abraham, referee Gianluca Rocchi allowed play to continue and a shot then hit Joel Veltman’s arm in the 18-yard box. Rocchi awarded a penalty, went back and showed Blind a second yellow card, with fellow centre-back Veltman also sent off seconds later for the handball.

Jorginho scored from the spot for the second time in the game to set up a frantic finale. Substitute Reece James pulled Chelsea level and became the club’s youngest Champions League goalscorer with a low strike from a rebound after Kurt Zouma had headed against the bar.

With the hosts pushing for a winner, Azpilicueta thought he had scored their fifth goal. Only for the video assistant referee to intervene and detect a handball by Abraham.

The result means Chelsea, Ajax and Valencia all have seven points with two group games remaining.

Managers’ reactions

Speaking after the match, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said: “I can’t explain the game. For all the things we might analyse back, the madness of the game, we are here for entertainment I suppose. Anyone who watched that has to say ‘what a game of football’. Respect to Ajax, what a spectacle.

“I don’t think I have been in a game like it. The two own goals were the story of the first half. I said at half-time it will be 3-3 or 4-4, we were so in the game.

“We looked dangerous and I felt we would build momentum. I’m not happy overall, this is the Champions League and we made too many mistakes.

“The biggest pleasure is the spirit the whole stadium showed. I can’t give you much on the red cards, I didn’t really see what they were for.

“At half-time I would have taken a draw, for sure. Let’s take it as what it was. I was expecting somewhere towards 10 minutes of added time, not sure where four came from.”

Also speaking, Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag said: “I’m very disappointed. I think we could have had four points from our two games against Chelsea but we only have one.

“Some decisions went against us, but we played magnificently. One moment everything changed.

“First Daley Blind, then Veltman, and a penalty, I felt we got punished many times.”

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