Ajax beat Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League group-level opener on Wednesday, sometimes riding their luck, but still showing their title credentials.
Although Ajax created many good chances in the Johan Groof arena, Ajax full-back Nicolas Tagliafico converted the ball into his own net in the 35th minute.
Davey Klaassen attacked the post with a powerful shot and the Quincy Broms stopped a point-blank attempt with Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian’s feet as the Dutch club created a few great chances.
However, Liverpool, who won their sixth Champions League title in 2019, still proved the value of their victory, dominating possession and counter-attack, while keeping a clean sheet despite missing the defensive talisman Virgil van Dyke on the weekend.
Fabinho moved from midfield to center defense to replace Van Dijk and had a great game, especially halfway through when Dusan got a clearance from the line to deny Dodge.
It was one of many chances for Ajax in the first half as Lisandro Martinez had a header saved by Adrian, and Ryan Groenberg shot short wide, much to the annoyance of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as he scolded his players for instructions early in the game.
But his revolt subsided when Sadio Mane turned the Ajax defense with a quick physical movement to set the goal. He misused his own effort, but he caught it when he tried to catch Tagliafico, but instead diverted it to the Ajax web.
“It was a good performance to win the game, it was sometimes so wild. It’s not one of our sunny glossy world class football days. It’s not perfect, but the boys fought like crazy,” the very satisfied Liverpool manager said later.
Globe took Mane and his striking partners Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah with 30 minutes left, but Diego Jotta and Takumi Minamino continued to put pressure on the home side.
However, Ajax should have equalized within four minutes of stoppage time, as Adrian did not handle a cross properly for that area, but instead Jurgen Ecklencomb missed the target.