Tottenham Hotspur were always up against it in the Champions League semi-final first leg, with a number of crucial stars missing, as well as having four days fewer to rest than Ajax.
Spurs were without the injured Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Serge Aurier, and Erik Lamela, while Moussa Sissoko was not fit to start the match and Heung Min Son was banned.
Ajax had also been given last weekend off by the Dutch FA in order to ensure they were fit and ready to fight for a place in the Champions League final (BBC).
The Dutch side certainly came out the traps far faster than Spurs, as they dominated the early possession and carved through Tottenham’s lazy press.
Donny Van de Beek then gave the visitors the lead after just 15 minutes, latching onto a through ball before finishing coolly past Lloris.
Spurs must now put in a big performance in the Netherlands if they are to reach the final.
Pochettino has explained exactly what went wrong in that opening period, but denied it was a problem with attitude (Football London): “I don’t want to talk about the attitude. I think the attitude was there. I think we didn’t find a way to play …. the team didn’t show the energy that we wanted to show. I think they showed more energy than us. I think the way that we conceded the goal was so painful. We were so poor in this action and … it’s true, I agree with you, in the first half hour of the game we struggled because they showed more energy, they were more proactive than us. That was the key.
“I think after 30 mins we start to equalise the game. Of course with Sissoko in, we started to play better, we started to show more energy. But of course we started to play better and the second-half was much, much better. We pushed them to play deeper and we started to press in the way that we wanted to press.
“In the second half, we took more risks and we tried to go forward and we allowed them a few chances. But I think that gave us the hope that in the second leg it’s going to be tough, for us also, but tough for them. It’s still open. You know very well that today was not our best game from the beginning. We are agreed that we cannot start the game like this. But they were fresh, they were more proactive than us. It was so tough to be in the game but that can change in the second half. For sure we are going to be competitive.
“I agree. We did not create many chances. We arrived in the last third but we did not find a way to create clear chances. Of course, there was the feeling that we can score but always we missed the last pass or shot. I think we felt that we can be in the tie.”
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