Eight goals, two reds and VAR in thrilling draw at the Bridge
Chelsea and Ajax drew 4-4 in a game which had absolutely everything. A comeback from 1-4 down, two red cards and a penalty in the same incident, a VAR intervention to deny Chelsea a win and both teams trying to win it at 4-4 despite one having nine men. Not your standard football match.
Ajax opened the scoring inside two minutes when Quincy Promes' free-kick from the far side was turned into the goal by Tammy Abraham. Seconds later, Chelsea went up the other end and won a penalty after Pulisic was caught by Veltman. Jorginho sent Onana the wrong way and it was 1-1 after just four minutes. The match was incredibly open and not surprisingly, more action followed.
Tammy Abraham had a goal disallowed for offside in the 14th minute after being played in by Kovacic and then Dusan Tadic fired over the bar after a long pass from the Ajax backline. Ziyech hit wide of the target shortly afterwards before Ajax hit the front after 20 minutes, Ziyech sent a pass from the near flank straight to Quincy Promes who headed home at the far post. VAR checked for a possible offside, but gave it the all clear.
Ajax then controlled the rest of the half and Abraham nearly turned Ziyech's ball into his own net, but it went just wide. The visitors did not have to wait long though before they extended their lead. Ziyech had a free-kick just near the corner flag and his delivery hit the far post because striking the diving Kepa in the face and into the goal. It was a stunning free-kick, but it went down as a Kepa own goal.
Onana then made a great stop to prevent a Chelsea player getting on the end of Willian's cross and Martinez smashed over after Neres made a splendid run to beat Tomori. There was still time for Alonso to fire at Onana, but Ajax were cruising at 1-3 going into the break. After the interval, things changed though.
Reece James was brought on for Marcos Alonso and the hosts dominated. Zouma fired over seconds in after a fiftty yards before Abraham had two opportunities in quick succession. First, he headed an Azpilicueta cross at Abraham and then he scuffed an effort which saw Onana have to tip it wide after Kovacic's pass. In the 55th minute, against the run of play, it looked to be curtains for Chelsea when Neres went down the far side, the ball broke to Ziyech and Donny van de Beek hit home to make it 1-4.
However, Chelsea had other ideas. Eight minutes later, Azpilicueta pulled one back. Willian passed the ball to Pulisic inside the box and then Abraham hit it towards goal. It may have been going in, but Azpilcueta tapped in at the far post to make sure. The Spaniard had just stayed offside despite the fact he looked to be off and the VAR backed up the assistant's call. The real turning point came 22 minutes from time in an a crazy incident which saw Chelsea get a penalty and Ajax have two men sent off.
Chelsea attacked, Blind fouled Abraham in the build up, Rocchi played advantage and Veltman stopped Hudson-Odoi's shot with his arm inside the box. The referee gave a penalty to Chelsea and booked both Blind and Veltman. Unfortunately for the Dutch side, Blind and Veltman had already been cautioned so Chelsea got a penalty and Ajax were reduced to nine men. Jorginho once again sent Onana the wrong way from 12 yards to make it 3-4.
Less than two minutes later, Chelsea were level. Willian's corner was headed by Zouma, his effort cannoned off the bar and Reece James smacked the rebound into the back of the net. Ajax were not done though and Kepa had to tip over to prevent Promes from making it 4-5. 12 minutes from the end, Azpilucueta thought he had scored the winner. His first cross was cut out, Jorginho shot at goal, Onana saved and Azpilicueta scored the rebound. However, a VAR review showed the ball struck Abraham's arm after Onana's save and the referee disallowed the goal.
The Chelsea storm then calmed down and the final 5-10 minutes were end to end. Edson Alvarez force Kepa into a fantastic save before Mazraoui nearly made it 4-5 for Ajax. Abraham then headed at Onana at the other end and Hudson-Odoi fired narrowly wide of Onana's left hand post. Batshuayi nearly won it for the Blues in the 90th minute after a turn inside but Onana made a stunning stop to his left. Only four minutes were added, much to Lampard's disgust, but there was still time for Abraham and Batshuayi to hit and shoot wide respectively.
The game ended 4-4 and it was a memorable match. Both teams will be disappointed not to win, but a draw was probably the right result. Valencia's victory over Lille in the other match in the group means Ajax, Chelsea and Valencia all have seven points while the French side are bottom with just one.