Chelsea have secured a place in the knock out stages of the NextGen Series after a 3-3 thriller with Ajax in Holland. In all honesty not many expected Ajax to paste Chelsea by the 12 goals necessary that would have seen Marseille usurp The Blues as a best-third-placed side but there was still plenty up for grabs as was evident in a magnificent fixture.
Ajax started the game in their typical fashion controlling possession and looking potent in attack forcing Chelsea stopper Mitchell Beeney into a smart save early on from a free-kick.
Chelsea did well to absorb that pressure and after 12 minutes Alex Kiwomya scored the opening goal of the tie. However that joy was temporary as Dermot Drummy’s side only held their lead for around four minutes after Jordi Bitter grabbed an equaliser.
Chelsea came back strongly and the impressive Islam Feruz had restored their one-goal advantage before half-time.
The second half was played in a deluge of rain and a strong cold wind gusting in from the North Sea and at first it was Chelsea who dealt with the changing conditions best as Feruz grabbed his second goal just after the break to give Chelsea an impressive looking 3-1 lead.
After Ajax became accustomed to the treacherous weather they soon took control of the game and with 15 minutes left of the game they were given a lifeline after Alex Davey fouled Lesley De Sa in the area; De Sa dusted himself off before dispatching the penalty to make it 3-2.
The writing was on the wall as an increasingly scrappy affair swung in the favour of Ajax once again and Nick De Bondt struck late to deny Chelsea second place; which could prove crucial as The Blues now face Barcelona in the next round.
Here are some reactions from Twitter…
3-3 to ajax couple decision should have gone our way in the last 5mins that could won us the game but owell, great game BARCELONA next game!— lewis baker (@lew_baker) January 29, 2013
Threw to play Barcelona in the last 16 #buzzing— Alex Davey (@davey_alex) January 29, 2013
image: © Jason Bagley