Sturridge goal the only bright spot in disappointing performance...
July 23, 17:00
A young Chelsea side were soundly beaten by Martin Jol's Ajax 3-1 in the Amsterdam Arena, thanks largely to two howlers from defender Jeffrey Bruma and goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.
Bruma's early own goal put the home side ahead before Daniel Sturridge levelled the scores. However, just two minutes later a Turnbull error allowed Siem De Jong to put Ajax back ahead.
Chelsea dominated possession but Ajax always carried the greater goal threat and a late third from the talented Korean substitute Suk, gave them a deserved victory.
The Blues visited the Amsterdam Arena with John Obi Mikel and Michael Essien the only first-team regulars in their starting line-up.
Boss Carlo Ancelotti began with Ross Turnbull in goal, and the youthful duo of Franco Di Santo, who spent last season on loan at Blackburn Rovers, and Sturridge up-front.
Ajax, fresh from the news that Jol wouldn't be leaving the club to take over at Fulham, began with Holland's World Cup keeper Maarten Stekelenburg in goal, and the highly-rated Christien Eriksen in midfield.
The young Chelsea side captained by Essien started the game brightly and had the first meaningful shot on goal inside three minutes as Sturridge drilled a 25-yard volley wide.
However, just two minutes later Ajax were in front. A cross swung over from the right-hand side to the near post should have been comfortably dealt with by Chelsea's young Dutch defender Bruma, however he made a mess of his clearance and headed into his own net past a hapless Turnbull.
The early goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the young Chelsea side who then struggled to get into any real rhythm as Ajax stroked the ball around, without creating any real chances themselves.
In the 24th minute though, Chelsea were level. Ajax midfielder Jeffrey Sarpong was shrugged off the ball in midfield by 17 year-old Josh McEachran, who fed Di Santo. The Argentine's pass fortuitously found its way to Sturridge who drilled a low first time shot past Stekelenburg from 25-yards.
Within two minutes, though, the hosts were back in front. A long clearance from Stekelenburg saw Turnbull come to the very edge of his penalty area to gather. However, under pressure from De Jong, Turnbull let the ball slip from his grasp, allowing the midfielder to roll the ball into an empty net.
Half Time: Ajax 2-1 Chelsea
Following three changes at half-time Chelsea started the second half by controlling possession, however the Blues were unable to create any meaningful chances, with Sturridge, Di Santo and Sinclair all struggling to get into the game.
And in the 58th minute, despite their possession they should have fallen further behind.
A long ball should have been routine for Bruma, who had continued to look shaky after his early error, but once again he made a rookie mistake allowing the young Ajax striker Zeegelaar a clear run on goal. However, the front-man dragged his shot wide of substitute Hilario's far post.
In the 67th minute, good footwork by De Jong saw him waltz past two challenges and allow the recently arrived Emanuelson a shot on Hilario's goal, but the Dutch international fired his 20-yard effort high over the crossbar.
Five minutes later and a strong run from Sarpong saw him reach the byline from where his cut-back, looking for Zeegelaar, was cut out at the last second by Bruma.
At the other end, Sturridge continued to cut a frustrated figure as he continued to be dominated by the Ajax captain Jan Vertonghen, and continued to lack any real service from his team-mates.
While Chelsea continued to have possession without threatening the Ajax goal, Ajax looked more threatening on the break and Emanuelson had a right-footed effort comfortably saved by Hilario in the 80th minute.
Four minutes later and the lively Emanuelson intercepted a loose pass from Lalkovic and fired another shot over Hilario's goal, this time from fully thirty yards out.
Ajax rounded off their win with an excellent team goal in the 90th minute. A clever pass from Bonevecia fed Blind, the son of Ajax legend Danny Blind, in behind the Chelsea defence and his low centre was turned in by the Korean substitute Suk with what was effectively the last kick of the game.
Ajax Starting Line-Up: Stekelenburg; Oleguer (Blind 64), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Anita (Emanuelson 64);Enoh (Bonevacia 73) , Eriksen (De Zeeuw 71), Lindgren; Sarpong, Siem De Jong (Suk 85), Zeegelaar.
Chelsea Starting Line-Up: Turnbull (Hilario HT), Billy Clifford (Chalobah HT), Bruma, Van Aanholt (Ince 64), Bertrand, Obi Mikel (Connor Clifford 83), Essien (Cork 73), Matic, McEachran (Sinclair HT), Di Santo (Lalkovic 64), Sturridge.