Football

Ajax in 4-4 draw with Chelsea after double dismissals

Dismissals of Ajax defenders Veltman and Blind in same passage of play turn clash with Chelsea on its head

Ajax Amsterdam coach Erik ten Hag said refereeing decisions cost his side victory against Chelsea in a pulsating Champions League match which ended 4-4 after two of the Dutch side's players were sent off in the game's turning point in the second half yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Ajax were 4-2 ahead with 20 minutes left in the Group H clash at Stamford Bridge when Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi showed second yellow cards to Daley Blind for a foul and fellow defender Joel Veltman for handball in the same passage of play, which resulted in a Chelsea penalty converted by Jorginho.

Chelsea defender Reece James levelled three minutes later to turn the tie on its head.

Summing up proceedings, former England and Barcelona striker Gary Lineker said on BT Sport: "All hell broke loose. It was Wild West football."

Fellow ex-England man Rio Ferdinand added: "We didn't have a clue what was going on. We were all sitting here asking questions. It was crazy."

James, 19, who became the Blues' youngest Champions League scorer, called it "a crazy game" while teammate Christian Pulisic added: "I didn't even realise they got two red cards to be honest. It was pretty wild."

The Ajax camp was decidedly less exuberant.

Reuters quoted ten Hag as saying: "I think we dictated the game and we were leading at 4-1 and 4-2 and I think we were controlling the game.

"Then in one minute in the game everything changed."

The Ajax coach added that Blind was fouled before he tripped Chelsea's Tammy Abraham - which earned him a second booking - but Rocchi allowed play to continue, which led to the penalty decision and Veltman's dismissal.

Said ten Hag: "Some decisions were not on our side. I think we were several times punished."

The Ajax boss felt his side had also been on the wrong end of decisions when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Chelsea last month, but heaped praise on his players for creating chances to win yesterday's match even when down to nine men.

DESERVED TO WIN

He said: "We deserved to win with 11 and also with nine."

Ajax captain Dusan Tadic, meanwhile, accused Rocchi of "stealing" their victory.

Said the Serb: "It's a big disappointment. We should talk about how Ajax played nice football, but we cannot because one man came and stole everything.

"We saw the situation. It's a foul on Daley Blind. Then it's not a second yellow for Daley Blind.

"Then it's not a second yellow for Joel Veltman. Then it's not a penalty.

"Never in my life have I seen a triple punishment. But everything started with the foul on Daley Blind. He was tackled by Christian Pulisic."

Veltman called his dismissal "a shame", telling Dutch media: "If he wants to give a penalty, which I did not understand at all, then it is not yellow.

"We were 100 per cent f***ed. I never experienced anything like this."

Blues boss Frank Lampard, too, admitted that he had not experienced many matches like this in his storied career.

He said: "Today was just a mad one. I don't think there's too many you can compare it to in my day...

"Take VAR out of it and the red cards et cetera, what I have to think about is us and the spirit that we showed... We need to tighten up for sure, but with that spirit we can go places."

Football