Ajax was already confident to advance to the 1/8 finals of the Champions League, but Erik ten Haga’s team could still be tempted to score six wins in six group stage matches. The Dutch are one of the biggest positive surprises of this season in the European elite. The two victories against Borussia Dortmund proved that Ajax could afford an equal fight with theoretically better teams.
Besiktas amassed four defeats after four matches, which can be considered a highly unsatisfactory result. While the defeat with Borussia is hardly a surprise, it seems that matches with Sporting could have been a bit better. Two losses to the Portuguese meant that this team is still in the promotion game. Wednesday’s meeting with Ajax in Istanbul was supposed to extend the Turks’ chances of a possible game in the Europa League in the absence of a draw in the Sporting – Borussia match.
From the beginning of the match, Ajax players were attacking, who wanted to take the lead in Istanbul as soon as possible. Although the visitors held the ball for a long time, very little resulted from their attacks. The ball often hit the penalty area, while the hosts’ defenders coped very well with interrupting the action of the Dutch. The first serious mistake was made by the players of Erik ten Haga.
Slightly after the 20th minute of the match, the ball was sent into Ajax’s penalty area from a corner kick. The ball fell to where Noussair Mazraoui was standing next to the post. The Moroccan had an exceptionally unlucky intervention, after which the ball bounced off his hand. After a brief VAR analysis, the referee awarded Besiktas a penalty kick. Rachid Ghezzal had no problems with using the eleven and confused Andre Onana by putting the hosts ahead.
Until the end of the first half, Ajax was still trying to break Besiktas’s defense, but it was hampered without Sebastien Haller present. This time, the team’s striking forward was on the bench, but the poor performance of the team forced the coach to send him to the field from the beginning of the second half. Until the break, Ajax had no idea how to break the deadlock in the offensive, but entering the field of one of the best scorers of this edition of the Champions League was to change the situation.
I guess even Erik this Hag did not expect it to happen so quickly. Already in the 54th minute of the game, Sebastien Haller hit the net, scoring the 1-1 goal, taking advantage of an excellent pass from Nicolas Tagliafico. The Argentinian received a perfect perpendicular pass for the defenders’ back and managed to handle a perfect pass by Haller who sent the ball into the empty goal next to the desperately intervening Merta Gunok.
Ajax felt blood and looked for more goals. After a while, Haller squandered an excellent situation after a roundhouse shot from just a few meters. It was to be expected that the player from the Ivory Coast would fight for more hits and in fact he managed to achieve this goal. Haller scored again in the 69th minute using a pass from Lisandro Martinez. The second goal of the Ajax striker made him equal to Robert Lewandowski in the ranking of the scorers of this edition of the Champions League.
Until the end of the match, Ajax fought for more goals, and Besiktas did not create too many favorable shooting situations. The players from Amsterdam played much better after the break and did not allow their rivals to create dangerous opportunities. The key decision was the introduction of Sebastien Haller, the co-leader of the current season’s scorers’ classification, onto the pitch.
Ajax has five wins to their credit and is already confident to advance from the first place in the group. Regardless of the outcome of today’s Sporting – Borussia match, neither team will overtake the Dutch anymore. The fifth defeat of Besiktas in the fifth match of the group stage of the Champions League means a definite end to the chances of even playing in the Europa League this spring.
Besiktas – Ajax 1: 2 (1: 0)
Goals: Rachid Ghezzal (22 times) – Sebastien Haller (54 & 69)