Chelsea beat Ajax 1-0 during Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League action to move level with the Amsterdammers at the top of Group H. Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to bag the winner.
Quincy Promes came closest to opening the score for Ajax in the first half, but the video assistant referee ruled out his effort with a marginal offside decision. The Blues improved after the break, and Batshuayi gave the visitors the lead after 86 minutes.
Both Group H leaders have now won two of three matches. Valencia could join them on six points by beating Lille later on Wednesday.
The match got off to a flying start, with both teams eager to get men forward. Ajax had the advantage in possession initially and played some of the better football in midfield, but the chances fell to the London side.
Andre Onana made a good save to deny Mason Mount, and Callum Hudson-Odoi perhaps should have done better with a volley after a cross was missed by the entire defence.
The frantic pace led to a booking at the midway point of the half, but perhaps not for who you would think, per James Olley of the Evening Standard:
Ajax improved as the half wore on and thought they had opened the scoring after 35 minutes, when Hakim Ziyech picked out Promes with a perfect cross.
The forward steered the ball home and veered off in celebration, but the video assistant intervened. Promes was offside by mere inches:
The Amsterdam native went close minutes later, with Cesar Azpilicueta blocking a shot that seemed destined for the back of the net.
The pattern continued in the second half, although Chelsea grew more dangerous, targeting young full-back Sergino Dest.
Ajax had their chances as well. Edson Alvarez beat Kepa Arrizabalaga with a fierce header around the hour mark but hit the post.
The Blues brought on Christian Pulisic and Batshuayi, and the latter made an instant impact, creating two chances in two minutes but failing to find the target. The second chance, in particular, was a shocking miss, per sports writer Dan Levene:
Fikayo Tomori and Pulisic also had good looks on goal as Chelsea upped the pressure in the last 10 minutes. Jorginho made a crucial interception to deny a two-on-two situation before the Blues finally broke the deadlock. Pulisic beat Dest and fired in a cross for Batshuayi, who blasted home via the bar:
Four minutes of added time wasn’t enough for Ajax to pull level. It was the first loss in a competitive match for the Dutch side this season.
Chelsea visit Burnley during Saturday’s Premier League action. Ajax host Feyenoord in the Eredivisie’s Klassieker rivalry on Sunday.