On Tuesday Ajax scored a 0-0 tie to visit APOEL in the play-offs of the Champions League. The team of coach Erik ten Hag played very poorly in Cyprus, although the starting position for the return is reasonable.
The best chances for APOEL were especially in the second half. Ajax ended with one man less, because Noussair Mazraoui received his second yellow card ten minutes before the end and therefore red.
The number of yellow cards showed that the team from Amsterdam had their hands full, because Razvan Marin, Joël Veltman, Lisandro Martínez, Nicolás Tagliafico and captain Dusan Tadic were also punished by Spanish referee Antonio Maheu Lahoz.
Ajax and APOEL will decide next Wednesday in the Johan Cruijff ArenA who will qualify for the Champions League. The match in Amsterdam starts at 9 p.m.
The team of coach Ten Hag can prepare for the crucial return in peace and quiet, because Ajax will have time off in the Eredivisie this weekend. There is also no competition match scheduled for APOEL.
Noussair Mazraoui receives his second yellow card and therefore red. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Ajax starts well in Cyprus
In the initial phase of the match in Nicosia, the initiative was with Ajax on Tuesday. The Ten Hag team had much more possession than the opponent and broke through dangerously a few times.
The first chance was for Tadic - he just couldn't touch the ball from close range - and shortly afterwards Donny van de Beek (too sharp pass on Hakim Ziyech) and Daley Blind (hard shot) also missed a chance.
An Amsterdam goal was in the air, but after the first fifteen minutes Ajax suddenly ran into problems. APOEL came out dangerously a few times, especially via Musa Al Taamari, and Mazraoui, Marin and Veltman took yellow in a short time.
In the last fifteen minutes before halftime Ajax took matters in hand again, but last year's semi-finalist struggled to find a hole in the Cypriot defense.
David Neres, like many teammates, had a difficult evening in Nicosia. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Game image hardly changes after resting
That game image did not change in the second half, although there was soon a considerable chance for Ajax to score. Van de Beek continued a fine assumption with a commitment that was about the goal.
Just like before the break, the dominance of Ajax came to an abrupt end and suddenly APOEL had the best chances. Goalkeeper André Onana had to intervene with a free kick, from the rebound the ball hit the crossbar and shortly afterwards Al Taamari hit the side net.
The level of the competition did not improve. Ten Hag tried with Sergiño Dest to replace the unhappy playing Marin, but the next chance was for APOEL. A good save from Onana prevented a backlog.
Ajax barely came out of it and had to continue with ten more at the start of the final phase after an awkward foul by Mazraoui. Strangely enough, the Amsterdammers then recovered a little, although they were not allowed to grumble that it remained 0-0.
Ajax coach Erik ten Hag along the line in Cyprus. (Photo: Pro Shots)
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