Ajax put one foot in the final of the Champions League with a 1-0 semi-final first-leg victory over toothless Tottenham.
Slicker and sharper than their hosts, Ajax’s crop of talented youngsters pinned Spurs back during an utterly dominant opening 30 minutes with Donny van de Beek scoring a priceless away goal.
Spurs looked short on confidence and quality in the final third without the suspended Heung-Min Son as they failed to test Andre Onana with any meaningful attempts, with just one of those hitting the target.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have now scored just once in their last four matches in all competitions as Harry Kane’s absence starts to become very apparent.
Jan Vertonghen had to be helped from the field just before the break after suffering a nasty gash to his nose. He received treatment on the field before attempting to play on, but moments later signalled he could no longer continue.
Ajax winger David Neres almost put the tie beyond Spurs but his low strike bounced back off the post to keep Tottenham’s hopes alive ahead of the return leg.
The result was another impressive away victory for Erik ten Hag’s side, who are now nine games unbeaten in this season’s competition, with wins at Real Madrid, Juventus and Spurs to savour.
Despite their clear satisfaction with a 1-0 lead, the Dutch side almost doubled their advantage with 14 minutes remaining when Neres fired a low strike which cannoned back off the post.
Only one of the 17 previous teams to lose the first leg at home in a European Cup/Champions League semi-final tie has progressed into the final. Spurs are still in the tie but a huge improvement is required.