Berlin, 6 November 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Chelsea overcame two own goals and a three-goal deficit to draw 4-4 with nine-man Ajax Amsterdam in an extraordinary Champions League match on Tuesday night while holders Liverpool went top in their group with a 2-1 victory over Genk.
Last season’s runners-up Ajax were 4-1 up from own goals by Tammy Abraham and goalkeeper Kepa, Quincy Promes and Donny van de Beek. But Cesar Azpilicueta pulled one back, Jorginho converted a second penalty after Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were sent off in the same minute, and Reece James headed the equalizer.
Both sides have seven points in Group H, and so do Valencia who beat Lille 4-1.
Liverpool Genk 2-1 to go top in Group H as Napoli were held 1-1 by Salzburg and failed to clinch a last-16 berth prematurely.
Borussia Dortmund fought from two goals down to a 3-2 win over Inter Milan in Group F where leaders Barcelona were earlier held 0-0 by Sparta Prague. Leipzig won 2-0 at Zenit St Petersburg to maintain first place in Group G, with Olympique Lyon second courtesy of a 2-1 win over Benfica.
The main drama took place at Stamford Bridge where Ajax led from Abraham’s second-minute deflection of Promes’ free-kick but Frank Lampard’s Blues levelled two minutes later when Jorginho converted from the spot.
Ajax went on top again in the 20th from Promes’ header, goalkeeper Kepa then looked bad on the Dutch’s third when Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick from near the corner flag sailed over him against the far left post and into the net off his head, and Ajax appeared to have won when van de Beek got their fourth in the 55rd.
But Azpilicueta pulled one back in the 63rd. Seven minutes later Blind fouled in the buildup to Chelsea’s second penalty awarded over handball by Veltman, with both Ajax players sent off and Jorginho cool again from the spot.
Chelsea were level from James in the 74th on the rebound of Abraham’s effort against the crossbar. The ball was in Ajax’ net again in the 78th but disallowed for handball.
“It was a crazy game. They were hard to break down and we took adavantage of them going down to nine men. It was a shame we couldn’t win,” James said.
Valencia came from behind against Lille thanks to three goals in the last eight minutes, an own goal by Adama Soumaoro, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Ferran Torres.
At Anfield, Liverpool took a 14th minute lead from Georginio Wijnaldum, Genk levelled out of the blue from Mbwana Samatta’s thumping header but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low drive in the 53rd settled the affair.
“It could have been a lot more comfortable but they made it difficult. I’m just pleased to get the result,” Liverpool’s James Milner said. “We need to finish the job now. We are in a good position.”
Liverpool are top of the group because Napoli failed to beat Salzburg a second time, managing only the 1-1 draw from Hirving Lazano after the Austrians had taken an early lead from a penalty by teenager Erling Haland who now has an unprecedented seven goals from the first four group games.
In Barcelona, Lionel Messi smashed against the crossbar in the 35th and was then ruled offside when he fed Arturo Vidal to score in the 58th as Barca disappointed again after a weekend 3-1 La Liga defeat at Levante.
Sparta goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar made several good saves and his team-mates were also dangerous up front at times.
“We’re not unaware that the last two performances haven’t been our best. They’ve been incomplete. We know there’s loads of pressure on us and now we must respond,” Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said.
Barca are yet to shine in the campaign but top tricky Group F with eight points in to their last two matches against the former champions Dortmund and Inter.
Inter led 2-0 at half-time from Lantaro Martinez and Matias Vecino but a brace from Achraf Hakimi and Julian Brandt in-between gave Dortmund an emotional win.
There was more joy for Germany when Leipzig took a big step towards the last 16 with the win at Zenit from Diego Demme and Marcel Sabitzer. They are two points ahead of Lyon who beat Benfica from goals by Joachim Andersen, Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traore.
Groups A-D play Wednesday, with Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain all able to clinch a last 16 berth.