Hello everyone, Lee Jackson here on a humid night in Istanbul at Vodafone Park ahead of an intriguing matchup between Turkish outfit Beşiktaş, who sit bottom of Group C in the Champions League going head to head on with table toppers AFC Ajax who are currently Group C leaders.
The de Godenzonen are bang in form in the Champions League this season with a 100% record winning all four of their matches so far scoring fourteen and only conceding two. Solid all over the pitch, Eric ten Hag will be looking to eradicate his team’s poor campaign last season slipping into the Europa League despite being one of the favourites to progress. Last time out Ajax recorded an impressive 3-1 comeback against Borussia Dortmund at the BVB Stadion Dortmund. Will they be able to continue the impressive unbeaten record against out of form Beşiktaş?
Facing them, Beşiktaş, who are yet to grasp a point this campaign with a combination of poor form and the opposition just being too good for them. Major problems in key areas for Beşiktaş as they aren’t scoring enough and can’t seem to keep clean sheets. They’ve only found the net twice whilst shipping twelve in the process. Four of those 12 came in the last game against Sporting CP who drilled them 4-0. Can Beşiktaş record their first point on the board despite having a slim chance to progress?
The Ajax figurehead comes in the form of Sebastien Haller who will be looking to manufacture a quality performance in front of goal tonight and add to his already impressive tally of seven goals so far in the competition. On the other hand, Beşiktaş have ex Leicester City man Rachid Ghezzal out wide who will be looking to drag his team out of their rut. Here are the lineups for tonight.
KICK OFF! ’01 – The ball is kicked and the game is underway.
’11 – Valentin Rosier cuts inside onto his left foot and fires into the top right corner from 30 yards but the ball was always spinning away, a whisker wide from breaking the deadlock there.
CHANCE! ’13 – It’s Ajax’s turn to go close this time with David Neres controlling delicately in the box and firing a shot just wide of the post, Mert Günok squirming across the goal to be certain.
’16 – VAR has flagged up for a possible penalty from a Beşiktaş corner. Dubious defending from Noussair Mazraoui at the front post.
⚽ GOAL! (BEŞIKTAŞ 1 – 0 AJAX) ’22 – The decision of a penalty is given from a clear handball by Mazraoui. Rachid Ghezzal converts from the spot with a powerful left-footed shot into the right corner.
’23 – On matchday 4 against Borussia Dortmund, Ajax also trailed the match from a first-half penalty but then went on to win the game 3-1. A similar result could be possible but they’ll have to tighten up defensively and offer much more going forward.
CHANCE! ’28 – Steven Berghuis delivers a defence-splitting pass through the Beşiktaş backline to find Mohammed Daramy out wide left, whose brilliant control tees up him nicely as he cuts inside and fires a venomous shot towards goal. An intelligent parry away from immediate danger by Günok.
’30 – A rapid break from de Godenzonen, with Alex Teixeira poking the ball into the lane of Cyle Larin. Bearing down nicely on goal, he lets off a left-footed effort which takes an initial deflection off Lisandro Martínez. In steps André Onana to make a fantastic improvised save with his feet but it should’ve really been 2-0.Embed from Getty Images
’34 – Former Spurs forward, Georges-Kevin N’Koudou jinks and jives like a gazelle against Mazraoui on the left flank before driving a low cross into the path of an eagerly waiting Teixeira at the near post. Back to goal, he attempts to take a deft touch to allow him to lose Martínez, but not executed well and goes out of play.
’41 – Daramy’s predatory instincts kick in as he pounces onto a through ball in which nutmegs Francisco Montero. With the goal in sight, he rushes the chance and snatches at the effort sending it wayward.Embed from Getty Images
CHANCE! ’42 – A massive opportunity for the hosts to take a two goal advantage into half-time, with Miralem Pjanić providing an inch-perfect through ball to Larin who strolls into the area unchallenged, stabbing at the shot with Onana again making a well improvised save with his legs.
🕑 HALF TIME – (BEŞIKTAŞ 1 – 0 AJAX)
SUBSTITUTION ’46 – A change for Ajax as Erik ten Hag has seen enough from Daramy, he makes way for talisman Sebastien Haller.
’51 – Ajax are squeezing and pressing as a unit here with Berghuis’ hammering a left-foot shot from just outside the box, Günok responds with an outstanding reflex save due to severe swerve on the ball.
⚽ GOAL! (BEŞIKTAŞ 1 – 1 AJAX) ’54 – An outrageous defence-splitting pass from Martínez through to Nicolás Tagliafico, who wins the foot race and slots the ball across the box to super-sub Haller, who scoops it home for his 8th of the competition.
SUBSTITUTION ’67 – It’s time for Batman, as scorer Ghezzal makes way for Michy Batshuayi.
⚽ GOAL! (BEŞIKTAŞ 1 – 2 AJAX) ’69 – It’s a brace for the goal machine Haller. A training ground move here with a short free-kick being played by Dušan Tadić into the feet of Martínez, who fires the towards goal but with poor accuracy. Luckily Haller is there and it’s a poacher’s finish giving him his 9th of the competition.
SUBSTITUTION ’72 – A night to forget for Mazraoui as he is replaced by the highly-rated prospect, Jurriën Timber.
’75 – Haller has now scored more goals in his first five UEFA Champions League matches than any other player coming in with nine, overtaking Erling Haaland’s previous record of eight.
SUBSTITUTION ’77 – A double change for the Dutch side as Tagliafico comes off for Daley Blind and Perr Schuurs comes off for Devyne Rensch. Like for like changes as they look to batten down the hatches and secure the victory.
SUBSTITUTION ’81 – Wholesale changes as Beşiktaş look to rescue an equaliser. Pjanić for Salih Uçan, Montero for Necip Uysal and Mehmet Topal for Atiba Hutchinson.
SUBSTITUTION ’83 – Ajax looking to reinforce midfield as Berghuis is replaced by Kenneth Taylor.Embed from Getty Images
CHANCE! ’84 – He’s been quality all night and again here. Martínez climbs highest from the Tadić corner, meeting the ball with power, but a full-stretch save from Günok denies him a goal.
🟨 YELLOW CARD ’85 – It’s the main man tonight who meets the book, Haller gets carded for a late foul.
🟨 YELLOW CARD ’88 – Frustration all round tonight for Larin who gets his name in the book.
’90+2 – Haller on a hattrick gets denied his third as David Neres is flagged for offside in the build-up despite Haller slotting home at the near post.
🕑 FULL TIME – (BEŞIKTAŞ 1 – 2 AJAX)
Reflecting on the Match
Magnificent Haller strikes again as Ajax claim all three points to keep their 100% record going in the campaign this season. The early minutes of the game were dominated by the Turkish side with VAR intervening after a dubious bit of defending resulting in a penalty that was converted to put the home side 1-0 up. One way traffic for most of the first-half but a tactical change from the Ajax boss meant Haller entered the fray and quickly got to grips with the game scoring a brace and claiming the victory for his team.