It was a priori one of the most attractive qualifiers of the 1/16 finals of the Europa League between the leaders of Ligue 1 and the Eredivisie, but in the end the first ’round’ produced a disappointing match until in the last quarter of an hour the three goals arrived.
Timothy Weah, son of the legendary George Weah, put Lille ahead in a serious error by Nicolás Tagliafico, but two goals ‘in extremis’ by Dusan Tadic, from penalties, and by the young Brian Brobbey in three minutes gave Ajax a valuable victory (1 -2) who awarded his best proposal and bring him closer to the round of 16.
Much respect and rare occasions
The game was presided over by the respect between two teams in a row that lead their leagues and are having a good time. Lille had 8 games unbeaten and 6 without conceding a single goal, while Ajax had won their last 8 games, now 9.
Despite the notable absences of goalkeeper André Onana (suspended for a year due to doping) and his recent record signing Sébastien Haller (not included due to an incredible computer error), Ajax offered more and came to have 71% of possession in the first part by patiently moving the ball in search of a gap in a retracted opponent.
Antony, the only danger
He succeeded on rare occasions with Antony as the hoarder of those few arrivals to the French area. The Brazilian finished three times but always found the answer from the sure goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who stopped him two shots and also covered his attempt with a brave exit at his feet.
Only in the last moments of the first half did LIlle appear in attack with two arrivals by Jonathan Bamba and Timothy Weah that did not have major significance.
Jailings without continuity
The beginnings of the second part were promising and seemed to invite to witness some more football. Davy Klaassen was 0-1 when receiving in good position but shot badly, high (48 ‘) and Lille replied with a fast foray from Timothy Weah to the baseline that culminated with a death pass and Jonathan David did not arrive for very little (53 ‘).
Ajax continued to dominate and look for something more something, but this move led him to be cautious in his handling of the ball, aware that Lille based their strategy on taking advantage of a failure in delivery to go off shot against.
A serious error by Tagliafico causes the 1-0
And this ended up arriving when the full back Nicolás Tagliafico delayed a ball to Maarten Stekelenburg, but the transfer fell short and Weah, without stopping, pushed it into the net before the surprised Dutch goal, who stayed halfway out (72 ‘) .
The 1-0 seemed final but the game lived a final full of an emotion that it had lacked until then. Renato Sanches pushed Tagliafico into the area, who amended his error at 1-0, and the Slovakian Ivan Kruzliak whistled a penalty, a decision that he validated after resorting to VAR.
From 681 unbeaten minutes to conceding two goals in three
Tadic made no mistake (87 ‘) and ended Lille’s 681 unbeaten minutes, but not everything was said. Only two later the Serbian sent Klaassen and he first with a subtle touch left Brobbey alone so that, at just 19 years old, he beat Maignan. A play from the Ajax school, without a doubt the best finishing touch for a game with little football.