Ajax and Barcelona gained the upper hand in the first legs of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, to move ever closer to the final.
TOTTENHAM 0-1 AJAX:
The four-time European champions from Amsterdam scored an early goal and put in a professional display to take a one goal lead away from London. Donny Van De Beek scored in the 15th minute of play finishing off a lovely move by the away side.
It was a quick move with lovely inter-change passing and it was Hatem Ziyech that fed the ball to the 22-year old, who was left all alone, just managed to beat the offside trap and after a couple of fakes at the Spurs goalkeeper, slotted the ball home.
He almost scored a second 10 minutes later, but the teams headed to the break.
After the interval, the home team were the much better team and had a great chance to equalise soon after the break, but Delle Alli’s shot from close range was stopped by some last ditch defending from Matthijs De Ligt and Daley Blind.
Ajax hit the post late on from a David Neres shot and the match had no further goals. The Dutch side are firm favourites headed back with the lead from an away goal, but Spurs have showed they can play well on the road, as evidenced by their performance versus Manchester City. Still all to play for in this one.
BARCELONA 3-0 LIVERPOOL
A clinical display from the Blaugrana against a wasteful Liverpool side saw them take a giant stride towards the final.
Both teams took their time to work their way into the match, but it was the home team that took the lead through former Reds favourite Luis Suarez. Jordi Alba fired a low cross and the Uruguayan slide in to guide the ball into the goal. The Merseysiders started playing a bit more, but no breakthrough was forthcoming and the teams headed to the break with the Catalans having the slight advantage.
The five-time European champions from England continued their much improved play after the break and came close three times before the hour mark; both James Milner and Mohammed Salah with left footed shots, were well saved by Ter Stegen in the Barcelona goal. Milner again with a guilt edge chance when he ghosted in all alone, only to hit his shot from 12 yards out straight at Ter Stegen.
Against the run of play, the home team struck twice and inevitably, it was that man Lionel Messi who provided the dagger into Liverpool’s hearts. Following up after Suarez had hit the cross-bar, he tapped in from a couple of yards out and then, he showcased his genius again!
From all of 30 yards out the 31-year old curled in a spectacular free-kick that Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson dived at full stretch, but was powerless to stop and it was 3-0. Still though, Liverpool had the chance to grab a a very important goal away from home, but on the same play, Roberto Firmino’s goal was staved off the line while’s Salah rebound hit the post.
The tie is seemingly over, as Barca appeared to have booked their place in their ninth European Cup final, while Liverpool will have to galvanise all the energy of the much renowned Anfield atmosphere to have a chance.