‘Football can be very beautiful and it can be very cruel’: Ajax manager Erik ten Hag ‘very proud’ of his side despite their second-half collapse against Tottenham in the Champions League
Ajax manager Erik ten Hag insisted his side ‘deserve a very big compliment’ despite their second-half collapse against Tottenham, which cost them a place in the Champions League final.
The Dutch side looked on the verge of their first appearance in European football’s showpiece since 1996 when they led 3-0 on aggregate at half-time of Wednesday’s semi-final second leg.
But Lucas Moura netted a second-half hat-trick to turn the tie around in an incredible 45 minutes at the Johann Cruyff Arena.
Ajax boss Erik ten Hag insisted he was proud of his side despite their defeat by Tottenham
Lucas Moura scored a second-half hat-trick to haul Spurs into the Champions League final
The Ajax players were left strewn on the turf following Moura’s injury-time winner but after the final whistle, Ten Hag insisted: ‘Football can be very beautiful and it can be very cruel, we have had to experience that today.
‘Overall we had a fantastic Champions League campaign, we were one second away from the final, our team deserves a very big compliment, I am very proud of my players.’
Ajax had been the surprise package of this season’s competition, shocking Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the last four.
Ajax’s players were left strewn across the Johan Cruyff Arena pitch after the final whistle
‘I told the players in the break that it wasn’t over yet,’ the Ajax manager said on Wednesday
Their confident young team looked set to continue their incredible campaign after goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech put them 2-0 up on Wednesday. Only for Spurs to mount an incredible fightback.
‘I told the players in the break that it wasn’t over yet, you could tell by the attitude of the Tottenham players. They still believed in it,’ Ten Hag added.
‘When that ball hits the post from Hakim Ziyech (in the second half), it’s over and out for Spurs. But I can’t blame anyone.
‘We have had an incredible Champions League season and have grown a lot as a team. It is difficult to process.’