Offensive poor Ajax says goodbye to the Champions League

Ajax has failed to qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League. The Amsterdammers had to win from Atalanta to finish second in group D, but went down 1-0 on their own.

Atalanta thus seized the second ticket for the knockout phase behind group winner Liverpool, who played his last match 1-1 against Midtjylland.

Ajax trainer Erik ten Hag was forced to make two changes to his basic self. The 18-year-old Brian Brobbey started in the rush hour, because Lassina Traoré was not fit enough and Lisandro Martínez replaced the sick Daley Blind in the back.

Little entertainment

Ajax had more ball possession, but found it very difficult to create chances. The lack of the built-up strong Blind made itself felt in that respect. It was waiting for the injury time of the first half for the home side's first real opportunity; Brobbey headed harmlessly into the hands of goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini.

Because Atalanta didn't show the swirling soccer machine that the team can be - the Italians were dangerous once via De Roon - the first 45 minutes of entertainment were downright disappointing.

Offensive impotence

With the Serbian as the starting point, the Amsterdam attacking impotence did not end immediately, so Ten Hag took more rigorous measures: crowbar Klaas-Jan Huntelaar replaced Tagliafico, which meant that Promes fell back to the position of attacking left back. And Jurgen Ekkelenkamp came into the field for the disappointing Zakaria Labyad.

Huntelaar shouted for a penalty five minutes after his raid, when he was lightly run in the back by Remo Freuler, but without success. However, the entry of the 37-year-old striker had a positive influence on the Amsterdam offensive game.

The other substitute Ekkelenkamp played a leading role a quarter of an hour before time in what should have been the 1-0. The midfielder extended the ball with the heel to Davy Klaassen, who was free to shoot. But Klaassen shot straight at Gollini, a capital miss.

Red Gravenberch

When Ajax faced ten men five minutes later, as Ryan Gravenberch was presented with his second yellow card, a second painful Champions League elimination in two seasons drew near.

The man who destroyed Amsterdam's hope forever, listened to the name Luís Muriel. The Colombian striker was sent away five minutes before time by Freuler, overturned Onana and slid the ball into the empty goal: 0-1.

With the courage of despair the ten Ajacopers were still looking for the attack, but the home side could not go any further than shots from Antony and Promes. Atalanta may therefore prepare for a sequel in the Champions League, Ajax must settle for Europa League football.


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