Semi-finalists of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League, Ajax started their campaign in the 2019-20 with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Lille. In the 18th minute of the the game, Ajax opened their account for the season with a goal from Quincy Anton Promes. But it was after the goal, during the celebrations that the Dutch club’s captain Dusan Tadic was in involved in a funny moment.
While celebrating the goal, the former Southampton striker, out of nowhere, slapped David Neres, which brought about a hilarious expression on surprised Neres’s face. Tadic immediately kissed Neres on his cheeks as if to suggest his slap was out of love and joy.
A video of the incident came out on social media, which immediately spread around much to the amusement of people.
— Jordy van Gulijk (@JordyvGulijk) September 17, 2019
— Fútbol en Movistar+ (@MovistarFutbol) September 17, 2019
Ajax finished the half with a goal ahead, and later went on to score two more goals in the second half by Edson Alvarez and Nicolas Telgliafico. Though the match finished comfortably in favour of Ajax, their manager Erik ten Hag found a few places where they could improve. The Dutch manager was of the feeling that his team were far too open at times in an effort to attack and wanted his team to be more organised.
“My players have an enormous urge to push forward,” he was quoted as saying after the match. “We have many players who want to get to the goal quickly but there are times when you have to brake and keep the ball longer.”
“Otherwise, you make the opponent stronger. From an organisational point of view, we have to play smarter. We sometimes want way too much and that made it an open game. We talked about it in advance because Lille are a powerful side. We want to give a final pass too quickly instead of holding the ball.”
Ajax were the surprise package in the last season’s tournament, where they managed to beat Real Madrid and Juventus to make it to the semi-finals before bowing out to Tottenham Hotspurs. Before the start of the season, three of their best players made big money moves to various parts of Europe, which led many people into believing that the team would fade out this year. But the victory was a reminder for those people that Ajax is a team that cannot be written off despite their pre-season losses.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) September 17, 2019
“It was a fantastic night for Ajax and the fans, we played against a very good Lille side, we made a few mistakes that almost cost us dear but fortunately our goalkeeper was there to save us because we put ourselves in difficult situations,” Ten Hag said about the match.
“We have to be more vigilant in our weak moments in the rest of the competition, but I am happy with my team, which at times played fantastic football.”
Ajax and Lille have been drawn into Group H along with Chelsea and Valencia in the UEFA Champions League draw. It could be a tricky situation for Ajax and a win first up will certainly help them in qualifying for the knockouts.