THE NETHERLANDS – The Ajax players are extremely disappointed by their last-second elimination from the Champions League in the semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, but they are also proud of how far they’ve come and the impressive season they’ve had in the league.
“I think everyone enjoyed the fact that once again there was a club outside the European elite that got far in the Champions League. And also with good football. It was a kind of fairy tale, but with a very bad ending”, Frenkie de Jong said after the match, NU.nl reports.
“We have amazed the world”, right back Noussair Mazraoui said. “Everyone wrote and spoke about us. That is super nice. We can be super proud of each other. That is painful to say at the moment, but that realization will come later.”
Ajax seemed well on its way to the Champions League final in the Johan Cruijff Arena on Wednesday. The Amsterdam team won the first match in London with a score of 0-1 last week. And in the first half of Wednesday’s match led at a comfortable 2-0, thanks to goals by Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech. But after the break, Tottenham made a major come back, quickly catching up to 2-2. And deep into injury time, Lucas Moura scored the decisive goal, earning the 2-3 victory for Tottenham.
With that Ajax missed the first chance it had for a Champions League final since 1996. Still, the Amsterdam team had a great season in the Champions League. Coach Erik ten Hag’s team survived the preliminaries relatively easily, kept pace with Bayern Munich in the group stage, and stunned by eliminating both Real Madrid and Juventus in the knockout stage.
“If you look at where we come from… I get goosebumps as I say this. From the second preliminary against Sturm Graz. It has been a great and unforgettable campaign. But it still hurts a lot”, De Ligt said, according to NU.nl.
“Cruel”, is what coach Ten Hag called Ajax’s last-second elimination. “Cruel. That was today. We had a fantastic European campaign and we also did a fantastic job in this diptych. We were almost there. But the dream fell apart”, he said after the match, NOS reports. But he added: “If you start in July and are still in it until the last second of the semi-finals, then you should also be proud.”