A lackluster Tottenham suffered defeat in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Ajax, with Donny van de Beek scoring the only goal of the game for the Dutch visitors.
The visitors began the first half the better of the two sides and took a deserved lead when Van de Beek broke the offside trap before coolly slotting home past Hugo Lloris.
Lloris was forced to block with his legs from the same player as Ajax threatened again before Spurs had a chance to hit back, but Fernando Llorente’s header was wayward.
The opening period was overshadowed by an injury to Jan Vertonghen, who suffered a nasty clash of heads with team-mate Toby Alderweireld.
Spurs threatened in the second half, but were unable to find a way through – and they have it all to do in the second leg in Amsterdam next Wednesday.
Here are 3 talking points from a lively encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium…
1. Nervous Spurs fail to rise to the challenge
All the pre-match talk was on Tottenham, dubbed the favorites for this encounter, and whether they could deliver another European night to remember.
But, having suffered the first defeat at the new stadium over the weekend, Mauricio Pochettino’s men were seemingly still shell-shocked on Tuesday night.
The Spurs boss have been missing key men Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, but they lacked any attacking intent in the first half and allowed Ajax to dominate possession.
Pochettino obviously had words at half-time, and rightly so, as they came out for the second period intent on getting themselves back in the game.
But they couldn’t find a way through, and will need a repeat of their stunning attacking performance at Manchester City if they want to book a spot in the final.
2. De Jong pulls the strings
Ajax’s squad is full of talented players, there’s no doubting that, but all eyes were on one Dutch starlet in particular on Tuesday night.
That man is Frenkie de Jong, the Barcelona-bound midfielder who battled with Spurs trio Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Victor Wanyama in London – and came out on top.
De Jong once again displayed his ball-playing prowess, pulling the strings in midfield and always played the right pass at the right time. He can unlock defences when the odds are against him, and showed that against Spurs.
This was the latest in a string of fine European performances from the 21-year-old midfield maestro, and he’ll be a welcome addition to an already-talented Barcelona team this summer.
3. Sissoko makes an impact
There was a time when Moussa Sissoko was ridiculed by Spurs fans. But no anymore.
Sissoko had missed the last three games with a groin injury and was only fit enough for the bench, but he was thrown into the mix in the first half to replace the groggy Vertonghen.
His arrival allowed Pochettino to shuffle his team around, and gave Sissoko a free role to do his thing in the final third.
That he did, with the Frenchman proving an attacking threat all evening, and also provided solid defensive cover when needed.