The season flies when you’re having fun watching Europe’s elite battle it out for the ultimate title of ‘Best in Europe’. The semi finals are upon us.
The first leg saw Ajax, a team that’s already eliminated Real Madrid and Juventus, travel to Tottenham’s new stadium in North London, and Liverpool travel to Barcelona.
Tottenham Hotspur v Ajax
The hosts face a daunting task to keep their Champions League hopes alive after a youthful Ajax secured a crucial advantage to take home with them.
Donny van de Beek‘s 15th minute goal, which he steered cleverly past Hugo Lloris from close range, put Erik ten Hag‘s enthusiastic side firmly in the driving seat for the return fixture in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Spurs struggled to overcome the absences of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, with the England striker injured and the South Korean suspended. The grueling task was made even harder by the loss of defender Jan Vertonghen who suffered a facial injury in the first half.
The Belgian’s injury raised questions about player welfare after he was allowed to continue, if only for a few seconds, when he was clearly badly shaken after the aerial collision with teammate Toby Alderweireld and Ajax goalie Andre Onana. He eventually had to be supported off the pitch by two Spurs staff members.
The hosts tried to force the pace after the interval with plenty of possession, but it was the Eredivisie side who came close to adding a second when David Neres struck the inside of the post with Lloris beaten.
The visitors held on to their lead in a relatively comfortable win and have forced Spurs into a tight corner, with the Londoners needing a stirring comeback to prevent the Dutch side from reaching the final on June 1.
Ajax v Spurs – Wednesday, May 8 (8pm)
Bournemouth v Spurs – Saturday, May 4 (7:30am)
KNVB Cup Final
Willem II v Ajax – Sunday, May 5 (12pm)
Ajax v FC Utrecht – Sunday, May 12 (8:30am)
FC Barcelona v Liverpool
Lionel Messi‘s two second half goals – including a world class bending free-kick – earned Barcelona a strong advantage, leaving Liverpool with an enormous task in the return fixture of their Champions League semi final next Tuesday.
After former Red Luis Suárez gave the hosts a first half lead, Liverpool held their own, but then game the double sucker-punch from Barcelona’s number 10 and their night was all but over.
Messi was instinctive, as he followed up Suárez‘s shot that deflected off the bar, but his second was purely majestic as he found Alisson‘s top-right corner from 25 yards out for his 600th Barcelona goal.
The visitors came agonizingly close to a potentially crucial away goal but Roberto Firmino saw his effort cleared off the line, before Mo Salah somehow struck the post rather than scoring from the follow-up.
Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele should have put the affair to bed in the closing seconds, but he scuffed it straight at Alisson from just a few yards out.
The winner in Liverpool next week will go on to play the winner in Amsterdam in the final on June 1.
Liverpool v Barca – Tuesday, May 7 (8pm)
Celta Vigo v Barca – Saturday, May 4 (2:45pm)
Newcastle v Liverpool – Saturday, May 4 (2:45pm)
ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN