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UEFA Champions League
26 November 2013
• Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam
Referee: P. Kralovec
• Attendance: 53000
T. Serero 19'
D. Hoesen 42'
That is it from me, Tom Webber, for this evening. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did and have a great night!
FULL TIME - Ajax 2-1 Barcelona: The 10-man Amsterdam side hold out to end Tata Martino's unbeaten record as Blaugrana coach with a thoroughly impressive display. It was an essential result which means they still have a chance of progression when they meet AC Milan in their final group stage fixture. The Catalan side can still qualify in top spot if they beat Celtic in their last match.
90' + 4'
The final whistle goes! Ajax pick up a vital three points!
90' + 3'
Pique got up to join the Barcelona attack but he was beaten to the cross by Cillessen and the keeper was even awarded a free kick!
90' + 2'
Ajax only have three minutes of added time to play and they've already gone through half of that! Can Barca forge a final chance to equalise?
That is excellent from Klaassen! He ran all the way down to the touchline to keep the pressure on Pique and he even managed to get around the centre-back and play the ball off of him for a corner.
Traore shows electric pace to beat Blind down on the near side but his delivery is dealt with smoothly by the Ajax defence. Seconds later Neymar is played in behind and rounds Cillessen, only to see the assistant referee with his flag raised for an offside decision.
Pedro initiates a good one-two but his touch on the return pass is a tad too heavy. He feels a tug from Moisander so throws himself to the floor, but as Cillessen quickly collects the ball the referee does not view it as a chance to score and play continues.
Credit to Pedro for getting back to help defend but he did not really need to make that challenge on Serero just inside the Ajax half. The Amsterdam side will get a momentary breather now.
Another defensive change from De Boer as Lerin Duarte is brought on for Hoesen. The striker has worked hard tonight and currently it looks as though his goal will prove to be the decisive one.
Adama Traore, just 17-years-old, comes on to replace Fabregas to make his Champions League debut. Will this gamble from Martino pay off?
This is great defending from Ajax! Moments after Pique has his attempted backheel blocked, Denswil heads Patric's cross out to safety. Time is running out for the visitors.
Neymar shifts the ball into space inside the box and fires a shot at the near post. It takes a touch off of Moisander and rolls into the side netting with Cillessen diving to his right to meet it. Barcelona are starting to step up the pressure again here.
Almost a shocker from Pinto! The keeper dithers on the ball and is quickly closed down by Van Rhijn. He just about manages to beat the right-back after a heavy touch, though, and clears away possession.
Great feet from Pedro there, this time popping up out on the left. He creates space to whip a cross into the box but he fires it straight into the arms of Cillessen. The winger has been extremely quiet this evening.
Fabregas lifts a pass over the top of the defence but once more it is too heavy for Montoya to keep in play. Barca have just under 15 minutes to find another goal but in truth they haven't actually created an awful lot against the 10-man hosts.
Barcelona win a corner and Xavi whips it in to the near post. Fabregas connects with the delivery but his looped header is gathered under no challenge by Cillessen.
Barcelona are now the side dominating possession this half. It is not surprising given that Ajax are now reduced to 10 men, but will the hosts be able to keep the Spaniards out for the remaining 20 minutes?
Patric comes on for his Barcelona debut and he will fill in for Puyol at right-back.
Montoya is the next man into the book following a cynical block on Serero inside the Ajax half. That is the fifth booking for a Barcelona player tonight.
De Boer's men are practically all behind the ball now as they attempt to stop Barcelona from finding a second goal. Whenever they are getting possession, though, they are just sending it long and handing it straight back to the Blaugrana which invites them forward again.
Ajax have around 25 minutes of normal time remaining to hold onto their one-goal lead. It would end a run of nine straight defeats against Spanish opposition.
Just over from Iniesta! The midfielder clipped a masterful effort towards goal with the outside of his boot which seems to have taken a touch off of a defender before dropping just behind the goal.
The intensity in Ajax's game has evaporated now as they cannot afford to have men dragged out of position. The fans remain fully behind their team though, and are creating a great atmosphere inside the Amsterdam ArenA.
STAT: Barcelona have only won two of six games previously played away against Dutch opponents.
Yellow CardRicardo van Rhijn
Van Rhijn goes in with an extremely high foot and earns himself a booking. He nearly connected with Neymar's head there and the referee makes the correct decision.
GREAT SAVE CILLESSEN!! The keeper comes off his line and gets just enough on Neymar's effort to turn it over the bar following Iniesta's exquisite pass.
Puyol is already proving to be more adventurous this half, and so has Montoya. Clearly Martino was unhappy with the lack of width in the first half and has sought to remedy that in an attempt to push Ajax back.
Neymar counters brilliantly, sprinting the full length of the pitch following an Ajax corner but as he cuts inside to shoot on his right foot he gives the defenders time to get back and block the effort.
Yellow CardAndrés Iniesta Luján
De Boer brings Stefano Denswil on for Lasse Schone following Veltman's dismissal. The coach had no choice but to sacrifice one of his forwards for a more defensive player.
GOOOOOAALL!! Xavi sends the keeper the wrong way from the spot and Barca are right back into this one! The 10 men of Ajax will be really up against it for the rest of this half now.
Red CardJoël Veltman
RED CARD FOR AJAX! And a penalty to Barcelona!
We are back underway!
The teams are back out for the second half, which will begin imminently. Can Ajax hold onto their lead and inflict the first defeat of Tata Martino's reign as Barcelona coach? We are about to find out.
HALF TIME - Ajax 2-0 Barcelona: The Amsterdam outfit may hold a surprise lead, but they are more than worth it. Their intense pressing has reaped rewards, forcing the Blaugrana into numerous errors as the continue to attempt to pass the ball out from the back. Serero and Hoesen's goals are currently keeping their hopes of progression alive, but there will be no room for complacency after the break. Stay tuned for it!
45' + 3'
The half-time whistle goes!
45' + 2'
Neymar was a fraction away from that! A good delivery from Xavi is almost converted by the Brazilian at the back post, but Van Rhijn did just enough to delay him from reaching that.
Just two minutes of added time to be played at the end of this half.
Iniesta glides forward and attempts to bring his team back to within one goal of their opponents but his lofted pass over the defence is just too heavy for Montoya.
GOOOOAAALL!! AJAX GO 2-0 UP! Pinto saves an initial effort from Fischer but Pique fails to deal with the loose ball. Hoesen picks it up and pushes his way across Puyol before sliding a shot past the keeper and into the back of the net. Wow!
Good defending from Montoya! The left-back got his head to Blind's cross moments before Schone arrived to divert it on target. Montoya took a real battering there.
Yellow CardCesc Fàbregas
Fabregas picks up a cheap booking for throwing the ball away from Poulsen after the referee awarded a free kick. That means he will miss the next game. But was that the plan all along? Who knows!
Ajax have had more of the possession in the first half but Barcelona are starting to have more of a say on proceedings at the moment. The Amsterdam outfit must maintain this lead until half time to improve their chances of holding on to the win.
Song does well to turn away from his marker inside the centre circle before handing over possession to Fabregas. The former Arsenal man attempted to feed Pedro with a pass in behind the defence but Moisander cut it out.
Following that collision with Pique, Boilesen will be unable to continue. Poulsen will come into the centre of midfield meaning Blind will move out to left-back. He had been having a great game in the middle of the park.
GREAT STRIKE!! Schone pumps the ball into the box and aims it towards the near post. Pinto is forced to punch it away as he cannot kill the power behind the ball, but an off-balance Klaassen is unable to slot home the follow-up.
Boilesen fires a decent cross into the area but Hoesen is unable to bring it under his control. Possession is moved back out to Boilesen, who beats Xavi and Puyol before being brought to ground just outside the box on the far side by Pique.
AC Milan have just taken the lead against Celtic tonight, making it even more important for the Amsterdam outfit to hold onto this score as things stand.
Puyol gets forward down the right and looks to get on the end of Neymar's pass. Fischer, though, has done superbly to chase back alongside the Spaniard and he possesses the space to beat him to the ball.
A great run from Neymar there, getting in behind the defence and managing to get a shot away on Cillessen's goal, but a deflection off of Moisander diverts it behind for a corner. Barca eventually whip it into the area through Iniesta but Fabregas fails to make a solid connection with the cross at the back post.
STAT: Ajax are currently on a dismal run of nine straight defeats against Spanish opposition. Their last win against Spanish opposition came when they hosted Celta Vigo in the 2003-04 Champions League. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.
That is brilliant from Ajax! Boilesen ventures forward from left-back and comes inside following a give-and-go with Hoesen. He slips the ball out to Schone on the right side of the area but the Dane's wicked, bending effort rises over the top of the goal.
Fischer fails to catch that volley as cleanly as his one earlier in the game as he is forced to take it on with the ball still sitting up quite high. He thinks he should have had a corner but the referee clearly thinks it was just a bad effort as it sails over the top.
Neymar almost finds himself in a position to bring his team straight back into the match but his control lets him down and the chance goes begging. Ajax will grow in confidence from that goal and the crowd are certainly responding to their efforts. What a start they've had!
AssistRicardo van Rhijn
GOOOOOAAAALL!! AJAX LEAD! Serero has been brilliant so far tonight and he makes a late run across Puyol to slot Van Rhijn's cross past Pinto and into the bottom corner.
Just wide from Blind! The midfielder picks up the ball in the centre of the park after Song was caught in possession by Hoesen. He strikes it well enough but sends it outside of Pinto's far post.
Ajax claim for a penalty! Serero made a late burst into the area and after driving to the byeline he cut inside of Pique. The pair came together and the midfielder went to ground, but the referee was unmoved. Those appeals came mainly from the stands, though.
GREAT BLOCK!! Pedro gets away down the right and rolls a teasing pass along the floor into the centre of the area. Neymar is unable to connect but the ball falls to Fabregas who takes a touch before shooting at goal. However, Veltman gets back and holds his ground to get his body in the way of the effort and clear the danger.
WHAT A SAVE!! Schone drives a cracking cross over from the left which finds Fischer waiting alone at the back post. He strikes the ball on the volley and sends it low at the near post, but Pinto denies the youngster a memorable goal with a strong pair of hands.
Serero has a chance to stretch his legs and he races down the left before cutting inside. He attempts to pick out Hoesen in the box but Mascherano reads the pass and cuts the play out.
Lovely play from the Blaugrana! Iniesta and Neymar combine on the left but the Spaniard is just offside as he receives a lovely reverse pass from his team-mate.
Yellow CardLasse Schöne
Schone picks up a booking for a late challenge on Neymar. The Brazilian has been very energetic so far and has already drawn a number of challenges from the opposition.
More great pressing from Ajax! There was no fewer than three players swarming on Xavi as he picked up the ball on the edge of his own area. If they can maintain such intensity throughout the game it could be a very interesting night.
Barcelona are being pushed far back into their own half and Pique has to lay the ball back to Pinto. The keeper attempts to spread the play out to Puyol on the right but he fails to aim his pass accurately and sends it out for a throw in.
This has been an impressive start from Ajax. They are moving the ball around well, passing crisply and quickly. The hosts know they need a result tonight and they appear eager to make that happen as soon as possible.
Barcelona are pressing the ball very quickly but Ajax are coping relatively well so far, although Veltman did have his pocket picked by Neymar just outside his area. Fortunately for him, though, Moisander was on hand to mop up.
We are underway in Amsterdam! Both teams in their traditional home kits.
The two sides are out and the famous Champions League anthem rings around the ground. Never fails to give you goosebumps. Kick off will be upon us shortly.
It looks to be a fantastic atmosphere inside the Amsterdam ArenA! Flags are being waved across the whole stadium as the crowd await the two sets of players.
This is Barcelona's first visit to Amsterdam for a competitive fixture, which is somewhat surprising given the connections between the two clubs. Johan Cruyff is one man to have made a massive impact on the philosophies that shaped these two iconic European sides, while current Ajax coach was a league champion with the Blaugrana in 1999.
Victor Valdes, Dani Alves and Adriano are all recent additions to Barca's lengthening injury list and do not feature tonight. Alexis Sanchez has been in fine form recently but he will not feature tonight due to a suspension.
Ajax are without Siem de Jong and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson tonight due to injury. The duo were absent in the weekend win over Heracles but their replacements, Davy Klaassen and Danny Hoesen, both scored in a 3-0 victory. Bojan is unavailable to face his parent club for the second time this season.
Barcelona bench: Oier, Bartra, Patric, Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Dongou, Traore.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Pinto; Puyol, Mascherano, Pique, Montoya; Xavi, Song, Iniesta; Pedro, Fabregas, Neymar.
Ajax bench: Vermeer, Van der Hoorn, Denswil, Poulsen, Duarte, Andersen, De Sa.
Ajax (4-3-3): Cillessen; Van Rhijn, Veltman, Moisander, Boilesen; Klaassen, Blind, Serero; Schone, Hoesen, Fischer.
The teams are in and although there is no Lionel Messi, Xavi returns to the Blaugrana squad. Starting line-ups coming up now.
My name is Tom Webber and I will be your host for this evening, and our game has plenty riding on it. Barcelona have already progressed for the 10th consecutive season and will confirm first place with a draw, or if AC Milan do not beat Celtic. However, if Ajax lose and the Rossoneri win, the top two will be out of their reach. Frank de Boer's men are in need of a result then.
Two clubs who have helped shaped modern football with exciting styles of play which have myriad interconnections: Ajax, the creators of Total Football, host Barcelona, the Tiki-Taka advocates, in the Champions League this evening. Both outfits may not maintain those values as strictly now, but we should nevertheless be in for a fantastic encounter tonight.
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