Chelsea showed the kind of character and spirit in their stunning draw with Ajax which proves they can ‘go places’ this season.
This is according to Frank Lampard, the Blues boss, who watched on from the dugout as Stamford Bridge hosted one of the most stunning games of the season so far.
Chelsea came back from 4-1 down to snatch a 4-4 draw against last season’s Champions League semi-finalists, and they even scored a winner only to see Cesar Azpilicueta’s strike ruled out for handball after a VAR review.
Ajax also had two players sent off in the space of a minute to write further drama on a truly remarkable night of European football.
The point claimed keeps Chelsea firmly in the race to qualify from Group H, level on points with Ajax and Valencia, and Lampard is taking all the positives.
Lampard said: “Today was just a mad one, there are not too many I can compare it to from my day, with the VAR which is a new animal, and the red cards.
“But take all that out of it, and the spirit and the character was something I love. We need to tighten up, for sure, but with that spirit we can go places.
“You need characters, you need personalities. It would be easy to turn it in at 3-1, or 4-1, but we didn’t.
“I think this group was always going to be tight, and we are in it. We’ve got two games left, very tough matches, and we have a lot of work to do.”
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Ajax took the lead inside the opening two minutes when Tammy Abraham inadvertently diverted a Quincy Promes free-kick into his own net.
But moments later Jorginho equalised from the penalty spot after a foul on Christian Pulisic.
However, Promes headed the second before Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick beat Kepa Arrizabalaga, came back off the post and hit the keeper full in the face before bouncing in.
It was four 10 minutes after half-time thanks to Donny Van De Beek’s low drive, but the comeback began when Azpilicueta tapped in at the far post.
Then, in another crazy 60 seconds, Daley Blind was shown a second yellow card for fouling Abraham and Joel Veltman followed him down the tunnel for handling Callum Hudson-Odoi’s shot.
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Stamford Bridge was rocking as Jorginho rolled in his second penalty of the night, and it was pandemonium moments later when substitute Reece James lashed home from a corner to equalise.
VAR ruled out Azpilicueta’s strike, spotting an Abraham handball among the pinball in the Ajax box leaving the Dutch champions suddenly grateful for a point.
Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag said: “Some decisions went against us, but we played magnificently. One moment everything changed.
“First Daley Blind, then Veltman, and a penalty, I felt we got punished many times.”