LONDON: Chelsea battled to an incident-packed 4-4 draw with nine-man Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League on Tuesday, with the hosts fighting back from 4-1 down after scoring two own goals.
Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek had put the visitors 4-1 up 10 minutes into the second half but Chelsea were allowed to stage a recovery as the Dutch side self-destructed.
Ajax, who reached the semi-finals last season, had looked faster and slicker from the start at Stamford Bridge but the match turned after their two centre backs were sent off inside a minute midway through the second half.
“I can’t explain the game,” relieved Chelsea coach Frank Lampard told BT sport. “The madness of the game, we are here for entertainment I suppose and anyone who watched that has to say what a game of football. Respect to Ajax, what a spectacle.”
The result left both teams and Valencia, who beat bottom side Lille 4-1, on seven points at the top of the Group H standings in the battle for places in the last 16.
Two minutes into the match Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta gave away a free kick and Tammy Abraham deflected Quincy Promes’s whipped cross into his own net.
The stadium fell eerily quiet with an empty away end after Ajax fans were banned by Europen soccer’s governing body UEFA following crowd trouble in previous matches.
Less than three minutes later though Chelsea were level after US forward Christian Pulisic surged into the Ajax area and was brought down. Jorginho calmly slotted home the penalty, sending keeper Andre Onana the wrong way.
But Ajax, who had won their last five Champions League away games, looked dangerous going forward. They were rewarded in the 20th minute when Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech spun an inch-perfect cross into the area and Promes dived low to head home.
Another free kick and confusion in defence led to Ajax’s third. Ziyech sent the ball from near the corner flag spinning towards the far post where keeper Kepa failed to track it. The ball rebounded off the woodwork and into the net via his face.
It was an embarrassing moment for the Spaniards who thumped the ground in frustration while Lampard watched immobile from the dug-out, his face like thunder.