Ten Hag: Ajax fought like lions
- Erik ten Hag was a happy man following Ajax's first-leg victory at Tottenham in the Champions League semi-finals.
Erik ten Hag said Ajax "fought as lions" as he praised his side's performance in their 1-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg victory against Tottenham.
Ajax's fairytale run in Europe continued thanks to Donny van de Beek, whose first-half strike ensured the Dutch giants left London with a priceless away goal and a win on Tuesday.
David Neres' late effort also hit the post as Ajax – who claimed victories away to Real Madrid and Juventus en route to the semis – took a step towards reaching their first Champions League final since 1996.
Reflecting on Ajax's result, head coach Ten Hag told Ziggo Sport: "It's a great achievement. We've fought as lions.
"In the first part of the match, we've played very good football and the goal was deserved. In that phase we had more possibilities as we could have score more in the entire match. Nevertheless, it's a good result.
"We didn't anticipate well after the substitution. We weren't able to keep the ball and that made it unnecessarily hard. We had to follow the ball too much. Tottenham chose a more opportunistic style and it took a lot of power to keep the pressure on. We would have loved to have the ball a bit more, but then we had to change our system, which would have made it easier for them to avoid the pressure.
"I'm sure Tottenham have gained insights from this game, but so have we. We know we have to do better than today in the return. I'm very satisfied with our progress and growth. That's great to see."
Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt added via Veronica TV: "It's only the first match, but it's a great position to be in. Especially because we scored an away goal. It was a shame about the one that hit the post, because that would have given us an even stronger position.
"This is also the way we played against Madrid, Juventus and against Bayern [Munich] away from home. We saw that Tottenham have a very good team, and they predominantly played long passes towards [Fernando] Llorente, which made it difficult for us to press them. In the end it was a physical battle, but we still left with the victory."Published 01 May 2019, 04:58 IST