Over the two fixtures Ajax have now beaten Borussia Dortmund by a total of 7-1, but the two games were markedly different, despite the results being the same. In the first fixture, Ajax tore Dortmund a new one, and BVB left Amsterdam embarrassed, but on Wednesday, the team can hold their head high after putting in a hell of an effort to stay in the game.
Unfortunately, their efforts were spoiled by some terrible officiating that resulted in Mats Hummels receiving a red card for a challenge that would have been a relatively soft yellow. Hummels was sent off after only half an hour played, which meant that BVB had to try and survive an hour against an incredibly formidable opponent. They managed to go a goal up through an admittedly soft penalty, and they held their lead until the final 20 minutes, when tired legs were no longer able to stave off the collapse.
Both matches were incredibly frustrating, but for very different reasons.
Here are our match ratings:
I think Kobel was a little unfortunate to concede three goals, and he made a couple key saves earlier in the game.
Kobel did stand on his head for the first 60 minutes, and he deserves credit for that. None of the goals were particularly his fault.
He was outmuscled by Haller for Ajax’s second, but otherwise I thought he was solid.
Sebastian Haller has made his career out of beating center backs with headers. Akanji isn’t the best at aerial duels on the team. If Hummels had been in the game, I think he would have been able to handle Haller better.
Hummels ended up being Dortmund’s downfall, but it was never a red, and I thought he was playing well before that point. Sure, 7 is probably a little generous for a player that didn’t get the opportunity to play the full 90, but I’m feeling salty so here we are.
Never a red.
Marius Wolf was the latest player to fall victim to whatever witch’s curse is currently afflicting Borussia Dortmund, but I thought he was playing well before that.
I’ve been harsh on Witsel this season, and I still didn’t have tons of confidence in him at times last night, but I thought he was pretty solid despite that.
I agree with Paul. After Hummels’ red card, I seriously thought that Witsel was going to buckle under the pressure of the additional defensive responsibilities, but he mostly held firm until the pressure.
Bellingham was absolutely massive. He won 12 of his 18 ground challenges, three of his four aerial duels, had three interceptions, four tackles, and drew a (soft) penalty. He unfortunately missed an open net on a header in the opening minutes of the match that could have massively shifted the tone of the match.
Didn’t get the opportunity to do what he does best, ALL THANKS TO YOU MICHAEL OLIVER!
Hazard looked very dangerous in his brief time on the pitch, but he unfortunately was the odd man out when Marco Rose had to change the squad after Hummels’ red card.
Marco’s penalty was nearly saved, but he managed to sneak it past the keeper, who dove the correct way.
Did about as well as could be expected for a center back coming onto the pitch cold turkey.
He was exposed again and again in the half hour he spent on the pitch. All three goals came from isolating him on the left of the pitch, and exploiting his weaknesses.
It feels a bit much to dish out more than a 6 for a performance that ended in a 3-1 loss, but the fact is that BVB were wronged by the officials, and spent an hour having to overcome a significant disadvantage. Borussia Dortmund gave it their all, but against a top side like Ajax, playing with ten men will eventually take its toll. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but they deserve credit for the effort under difficult circumstances.
Looking through my ratings above, it’s kind of strange to see a bunch of 6s and 7s for a 3-1 defeat, but to be honest I thought the squad played very well given the circumstances. BVB had Ajax on the ropes from the opening minute all the way to the red card, and still managed to outplay Ajax well into the second half, before numerical advantage became too much for Dortmund.