Ajax was praised to heaven after the match against Rangers FC and seen as “one of the best teams in Europe”, but there is now nothing left of that status. The Amsterdammers suffered a historic Champions League defeat against SSC Napoli in the Johan Cruijff Arena on Tuesday evening: 1-6.
After the lost match against Liverpool, in which Alfred Schreuder‘s team was also quite wiped off, Ajax knew what was at stake against Napoli. It had to win at home to keep the chances of wintering in the Champions League in its own hands.
It started so well for Ajax, that it quickly took Napoli’s first chance, but scored the first goal in the Johan Cruijff Arena. Out of a messy situation, Mohammed Kudus scored his third Champions League goal for Ajax. However, the early lead gave a distorted picture of the course of the match, because as soon as Napoli started the turbo, it all went too fast for Ajax. The Amsterdam defense was viewed no less than three times in 35 minutes.
Giacomo Raspadori was too quick to beat Daley Blind and headed 1-1 behind Remko Pasveer, who then also had no answer to Giovanni Di Lorenzo‘s header, who knocked Jurriën Timber at a corner. Ajax was outclassed on all fronts, couldn’t make a fist and when the players of Napoli opened the defense and Piotr Zielinski also made 1-3, it was over in the Johan Cruijff Arena.
Schreuder‘s half-time chat to make something of it in the second half apparently didn’t come to the players. Pasveer went wrong almost immediately after the break, making it even more painful for Ajax with the 1-4. And Khvicha Kvaratskhelia then made 1-5; a small group of Ajax fans couldn‘t stand it anymore and decided to leave the stadium early. They missed Dusan Tadic’s red card (twice yellow) and substitute Giovanni Simeone‘s 1-6.
Nor did they see how Brian Brobbey, Davy Klaassen, Florian Grillitsch and the young Youri Baas came into line in the final phase. No matter how hard they tried, it was no longer good for anything. If Napoli had been a little sharper, it could have been 1-7, 1-8, or even 1-9. Ajax was spared that.
1-6: Ajax has never lost a European home game with such numbers. Schreuder’s team has four days to repair things. On Saturday, the fight with FC Volendam awaits in the Eredivisie and the away game against Napoli in exactly seven days.