Ajax have come away from Nice with a well earned 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier.

Ajax’s build up to the crucial tie had been difficult after the horrible injury suffered by Abdelhak Nouri earlier this month. However, Marcel Keizer stated the players were ready for his first official game in charge and he was right as Ajax dominated the opening stages.

Ajax pressed a nervous looking Nice side, but failed to create any clear cut chances. The first fell to Amin Younes but he could only fire wide before Kasper Dolberg failed to punish an error from goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale.

As the half wore on, Nice came into the game more and in the 32nd minute, they took the lead. Lasse Schone gave the ball away in midfield, which led to Jean Seri bursting through the Ajax defence before crossing for Mario Balotelli to slot into the net.

Ajax came out in the second half looking determined to find an equaliser and in the 49th minute, they found it. Cardinale could only punch a cross into the path of Donny van de Beek, who hooked the ball into an empty net. The midfielder celebrated with a hand gesture to honour his best friend Abdelhak Nouri.

After the equaliser, the Amsterdammers were the better team and should have taken the lead before the end, but Davinson Sanchez’s header came off the bar before Cardinale denied impressive substitute Frenkie de Jong. In the final minute, Nice nearly snatched victory but Alassane Pléa wasted an excellent chance in front of goal.

Ajax take an impressive 1-1 draw and an away goal back to Amsterdam where the second leg will be played next week.

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