Ajax's de Ligt calls shock loss 'a nightmare'

Ajax's de Ligt calls shock loss 'a nightmare'

09/05/2019

Ajax Amsterdam's teenaged captain Matthijs de Ligt described their semifinal exit from the Champions League as a "nightmare" after the Dutch side were undone by Lucas Moura's 96th minute strike for Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.

"It's a nightmare, like a dream that went bad," the 19-year-old told Dutch television shortly after the 3-2 home loss saw Tottenham Hotspur through to the final against Liverpool in Madrid on June 1. Spurs won on the away goals rule.

Ajax let slip a 2-0 half-time lead, and 3-0 aggregate advantage, as Spurs came storming back in the second half.

"We played well in the first half, we had it all our way," he added.

"We didn't keep up the same pressure in the second half.

"We gave silly goals away. We were so close to the final ... and then the ball goes in. Unbelievable."

Moura squeezed in a shot six minutes into stoppage time to complete his hat trick and a stunning comeback for the Premier League side.

Ajax Amsterdam coach Erik ten Hag described the loss as "very cruel."

"Football can be very beautiful and it can be very cruel. We have had to experience that today," Ten Hag said. "Overall we had a fantastic Champions League campaign, we were one second away from the final and for that our team deserves a very big compliment, I'm very proud of my players."

But the coach admitted that they let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers having been 3-0 ahead on aggregate with 45 minutes left to play.

"If you're 2-0 up, you have to make sure you win the game, and we failed to do that. In the first phase after halftime we lost our grip on the game, they played a more opportunistic game," he said.

"But after the score was level at 2-2 we dominated again and we created chances.

"It's very bitter that none of those went in, and that they scored a very fortunate goal in the last seconds, maybe even past what should have the last second."

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