Spurs 0, Ajax 1: Short-handed Tottenham drops Champions League semifinal opener

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Doug McIntyre
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Ajax's Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek (C) runs to celebrate with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London, on April 30, 2019. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Ajax is 90 minutes away from its first Champions League final in more than two decades after Donny van de Beek's goal gave the Dutch club a 1-0 win at Tottenham in the first leg of Tuesday's Champions League semifinal. (Adrian Dennis/Getty)

Ajax’s magical run in this season’s UEFA Champions League continued on Tuesday with a dominant semifinal first leg win over short-handed Tottenham in London.

At 1-0, the final score was deceiving. Minus its all-world attackers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Spurs was no match for these young Dutch masters. Ajax’s latest golden generation of future superstars — who deservedly eliminated three-time defending champ Real Madrid and then Cristiano Ronaldo-led Italian titans Juventus to reach the final four — basically played the Premier Leaguers off the pitch for most of the match at spanking new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Donny van de Beek had all the time he needed to pick his spot and give the visitors a potentially decisive away goal following a slick passing sequence that unlocked the home team’s back line and left the 22-year-old midfielder one-on-one with keeper Hugo Lloris:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Initial video replays suggested that Van de Beek may have been a step offside. But the Video Assistant Referee determined after review that Spurs wing back Kieran Trippier narrowly kept him on. The goal stood.

Reeling Tottenham had no answer for Ajax’s relentless high-press, coughing up the ball time and again over the opening half-hour. And the four time European champ —only Real, AC Milan, Bayern Munich and fellow semifinalists Barcelona and Liverpool have more continental titles than Ajax, although its most recent triumph came 24 years ago — nearly doubled its lead shortly thereafter.

Van de Beek let the hosts off the hook, though, squandering another pretty buildup with a bad-angle shot straight at Lloris:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for Spurs. A scary head-to-head collision between Belgian defenders Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld resulted in a bleeding and very obviously concussed Vertonghen somehow being allowed to continue.

Moments later, Vertonghen took himself out of the match, unable to play on. Wobbly on his feet, the former Ajax stalwart had to be helped off the field six minutes before halftime:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Wounded, Tottenham enjoyed its brightest stretch of the opening stanza just before the break. But they couldn’t find a momentum-changing equalizer despite a few decent looks at goal. Alderweireld nodded Tottenham’s best chance over the crossbar before the whistle blew:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Badly out-possessed most of the night, Mauricio Pochettino’s side was better in the second half. But it wasn’t enough, not even close. The only consolation for Spurs was that they didn’t concede a backbreaking second or third goal. Had David Neres not pinged Lloris’ post and scored another late on, Tottenham would’ve faced a much more daunting task in the decider of the total-goals series next week at Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Instead, Spurs still has a chance. While the injured Kane won’t play again this season unless Tottenham mounts a comeback and makes the June 1 final, if even then, Son returns for the second leg following a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.

That said, based on Tuesday’s evidence, it’s hard to see the South Korean dynamo, as good as he is, make up the apparently glaring gulf in class between these teams all alone.

More from Yahoo Sports: