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Chelsea boss Lampard 'cannot explain' Ajax thriller

Reece James - cropped

London, Nov 6: Frank Lampard admitted he "cannot explain" Chelsea's 4-4 Champions League draw with Ajax after his side battled back from three goals down against their nine-man opponents.

Tammy Abraham and Kepa Arrizabalaga scored own goals, either side of Jorginho and Quincy Promes netting, as Chelsea conceded three first-half goals for the first time in the competition on Tuesday (November 5).

Ajax earned a 4-1 lead 10 minutes into the second half at Stamford Bridge and were 4-2 in front – Cesar Azpilicueta pulling one back – when Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were both dismissed in quick succession.

Chelsea 4-4 Ajax: Lampard's side peg back nine-man opponents in thriller

Hosts Chelsea capitalised on the two-man advantage as Jorginho converted from the penalty spot and Reece James netted 16 minutes from time, but Azpilicueta was denied a late winner by VAR as Abraham was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up.

Chelsea are level on seven points with Ajax and Valencia in Group H with two matches remaining and head coach Lampard was ultimately pleased with a draw in London.

"I can't explain the game," he told BT Sport. "For all the things we might analyse back, the madness of the game, we are here for entertainment I suppose and anyone who watched that has to say what a game of football.

"Respect to Ajax, what a spectacle. I don't think I have been in a game like it. I said at half time it will be 3-3 or 4-4, we were so in the game.

"We looked dangerous and I felt we would build momentum. I am not happy overall - this is the Champions League and we made too many mistakes.

"At half-time I would have taken a draw for sure. Let's take it as what it was."

Chelsea's comeback was no doubt helped by the dismissals of Blind and Veltman in the space of a minute.

Blind was shown a second yellow card for fouling Abraham and defensive team-mate Veltman followed him down the tunnel for handling Callum Hudson-Odoi's shot in the same attacking move, while Azpilicueta's late strike was also controversially ruled out in another game dominated by VAR.

"The red cards and VAR... every manager is talking about VAR," Lampard said at his post-match news conference.

"I need to watch that back and see them. When you are on the sidelines it is difficult to grasp straight away."

Second-half substitute James made a telling impact from the bench as he became Chelsea's youngest ever Champions League goalscorer at 19 years and 332 days.

"He is a fantastic young player," Lampard said. "I felt we wanted more on the right-hand side. He is going to be a top player. He has got great quality.

"The modern full-back to join in, some are doing in an outstanding way."

However, the teenage defender felt Chelsea should have gone on to claim a third successive European win in the remainder of the match.

"They were hard to break down and we took advantage of them going down to nine men, it was a shame we couldn't win," he told BT Sport.

"Scoring a goal is a bonus. The manager told me to come on and liven the boys up. We had chances to win it but from where we were at half time it's a good result."

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Story first published: Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 5:10 [IST]
Other articles published on Nov 6, 2019
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