LONDON (Reuters) – Ajax Amsterdam coach Erik Ten Hag said refereeing decisions cost them victory against Chelsea in a pulsating Champions League match which ended 4-4 after two visiting players were sent off in the game’s turning point in the second half on Tuesday .
Ajax were 4-2 ahead with 20 minutes left in the Group H clash at Stamford Bridge when Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi showed second yellow cards to Daley Blind for a foul and fellow defender Joel Veltman for handball in the same passage of play which resulted in a Chelsea penalty converted by Jorginho.
Chelsea defender Reece James levelled minutes later to deny Ajax another famous scalp on their Champions League travels.
“I think we played magnificently tonight,” Ten Hag told reporters. “I think we dictated the game and we were leading at 4-1 and 4-2 and I think we were controlling the game, and then in one minute in the game everything changed.”
Ten Hag said Blind was fouled before he tripped Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham — which was to earn him a second booking — but Rocchi allowed play to continue which led to the penalty decision and Veltman’s dismissal.
“Some decisions were not on our side,” he said. “I think we were several times punished.”
Ten Hag said Ajax had also been on the wrong end of decisions when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Chelsea last month, and heaped praise on his players for creating chances to win Tuesday’s match even when down to nine men.
“We deserved to win tonight, with 11 and also with nine,” he said.
(Reporting by William Schomberg; editing by Ken Ferris)