Chelsea pull off sensational comeback against nine-man Ajax

Chelsea 4 Ajax 4

Chelsea came back from 4-1 down to draw with nine-man Ajax in a sensational Champions League encounter.

Reece James, on as a substitute, completed the fightback with an equaliser on an unforgettable night at Stamford Bridge.

Ajax led 3-1 at the interval after a nightmare first half for the Blues in which Tammy Abraham and Kepa Arrizabalaga scored own goals.

Jorginho equalised with a fourth-minute penalty after Abraham had attempted to block Quincy Promes’ free-kick but inadvertently diverted it past Kepa.

Promes restored the Dutch side’s lead, Kepa’s own goal put them further ahead and Donny Van de Beek made it 4-1 nine minutes into the second half.

But Chelsea hauled themselves level by scoring three times in an incredible 11-minute spell in which Ajax centre-backs Daley Blind and Joël Veltman were both sent off.

Cesar Azpilicueta reduced the deficit before Chelsea were awarded another penalty.

Blind brought down Abraham and the loose ball ran to substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi, whose shot was blocked by the hand of Veltman.

That earned both Ajax players a second yellow card and Jorginho a second spot-kick, which he again dispatched.

And James then blasted home from the rebound after Abraham’s header had come back off the bar.

The ecstatic home fans then thought their side had taken the lead when Azpilicueta fired into the net – but the goal was disallowed after VAR showed that Abraham had handled Jorginho’s shot in the build up.

The incredible turnaround meant Chelsea stayed level on points with Ajax in Group H, which is finely poised with Valencia also on seven points after a 4-1 win against Lille.

Straight after Frank Lampard’s team found themselves one down, Veltman fouled Christian Pulisic and Jorginho calmly converted the resulting penalty.

Abraham found the net on 14 minutes after collecting Mateo Kovacic’s pass but the goal was rightly disallowed for offside.

But there was no doubt about Promes’ goal six minutes later.

Hakim Ziyech cut in from the right and delivered a superb cross to Promes, who headed home after drifting in behind Azpilicueta.

Worse followed for Chelsea when Ziyech’s free-kick from near the corner flag whizzed over Kepa and, after coming back off the far post, the ball bounced off the keeper’s face and into the net.

Ziyech was also involved in Ajax’s fourth.

The Morocco international stormed down the left and picked out Van de Beek, who slotted past Kepa.

When Mason Mount then went off with what looked like a nasty ankle injury, it was shaping into an absolute nightmare for Chelsea.

But Azpilicueta nudged Abraham’s goal-bound effort in from a yard or so out and that proved to be the springboard for an incredible comeback.

Chelsea: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso (James 45), Jorginho, Kovacic (Batshuayi 87), Willian, Mount (Hudson-Odoi 59), Pulisic, Abraham.
Subs not used: Caballero, Christensen, Kante, Gilmour, Batshuayi.