Lampard disappointed with referee and VAR yet again on an explosive night of football
This group game turned in one jaw-dropping second-half moment with Chelsea taking control but Ajax bravely saw off the late challenge from the hosts.
Crash, bang, wallop. One of the all-time great Champions League games was played out in the first-ever Stamford Bridge meeting between Chelsea and Ajax. It was 4-4 on the night in Group H, leaving plenty yet to be decided, but that doesn’t even tell half the story.
A minute of self-destruction from Ajax midway through the second half turned the tide with Daley Blind lunging on Tammy Abraham and being issued a second yellow card.
Not only that, but in the next moment Joel Veltman’s handball in the box meant that he would give away a penalty during Chelsea’s advantage stemming from the Blind foul.
Ajax’s players then exploded in front of referee Gianluca Rocchi leading to another red card for the already-booked Veltman.
Jorginho scored the penalty to make it 3-4 on the night and Reece James would go onto equalise from a corner after Kurt Zouma headed it against Andre Onana’s crossbar.
That minute of chaos added to what was already shaping up to be a classic with six goals scored as two young sides showed both frailty and magic.
Azpilicueta did indeed appear to make it 5-4 but VAR ruled it out for handball in the box from Abraham. Both Lampard and Azpilicueta have spoken of their issues with VAR in the past, while it only served to add to the madness on the night.
“Today it was a mad one. There aren’t many I can compare it with in my day,” Lampard said at Stamford Bridge. “We had 4-4s with Liverpool, but the red cards and VAR, it is a new animal and getting used to it.
“I’m not the only manager mentioning it every week, every manager is at the moment. I can’t give you a dissection of those today because firstly I need to watch it back with a calm head and see them. Secondly when you are on the sidelines it is hard to grasp straight away.
“I am delighted. Take VAR out of it. I have to look at the spirit and character was something that I loved and the fans loved. We need to tighten up for sure, but with that spirit we can go places.”
Remarkably, a point each seems unfair for each side, whose exploits on the night left much of Europe on the edge of their seats. The splitting of the points means that Group H is very tight going into the last two games.
Chelsea may well be disappointed not to win in the context of the two red cards for the opposition and, as Valencia won 4-1 against Lille, all is equal at the top of the standings with two games to go.