Ten man Ajax set up a showdown with AC Milan for a place in the Champions League knockout stages after a famous 2-1 victory over Barcelona.

  • By Michael Bell
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ajax abcFrom the beginning, Frank de Boer’s side took the game to the Messi-less Barcelona, and the Spaniards did not look comfortable with Ajax’s attacking play.

After 19 minutes, Ajax deservedly had the lead, with Ricardo Van Rhijn putting in a perfect cross for midfielder Thulani Serero to finish well from close range.

Ajax did not sit back with their lead, and continued to press a Barcelona side, who could not get into their usual passing game, with Lasse Schone coming close to an immediate second, but his shot went inches over the bar.

The second goal did eventually come on 41 minutes, as Viktor Fischer’s shot was too hot to handle for Pinto in the Barcelona goal, and Danny Hoesen latched onto the rebound before seeing his left footed shot deflect into the net.

At half time, Ajax were completely dominant, and fully deserving off their comfortable lead, however that was all to change at the start of the second half.

Two minutes after the break, Ricardo van Rhijn’s sloppy backpass was latched onto by Neymar, and when Joel Veltman’s last man challenge brought down the Brazilian, a red card and penalty was the result. Replays showed the challenge was outside the box, but it stood, and Xavi made no mistake.

With 40 minutes against one of the best attacking sides in the world with ten men, nobody fancied Ajax to hold onto their now slender lead.

However, substitute defender Stefano Denswil, along with Niklas Moisander stood firm, and repelled all the attacks Barcelona threw at them.

Ajax defended like lions, and held on for the 2-1 win to ensure they go into the match with AC Milan at the San Siro in two weeks, still with a chance of qualifying for the next round.

With AC Milan beating Celtic, it ensures that Ajax will at least be playing in the Europa League past winter, but after one of the best performances under Frank De Boer, the Eredivisie champions will go to Milan confident.

Its been a difficult year in Europe for Dutch sides this year, but Ajax have put in a performance which gives pride back to the Eredivisie, and one that will live in the memories of the clubs fans for years to come.

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