The Hague, Netherlands | THE INDEPENDENT | Reigning Dutch champions Ajax were knocked out of UEFA Champions League Group D after losing 1-0 to Atalanta in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Ajax needed a win in the Johan Cruyff Arena to reach the knockout stage, while the visitors from Bergamo needed only one point. Group D winners Liverpool had already booked a knockout berth.
Ajax coach Erik ten Hag gave 18-year-old Brian Brobbey a chance at center-forward due to the absence of the injured Lassina Traore, while David Neres (ankle) and Daley Blind (illness) were replaced by Antony and Lisandro Martinez.
Brobbey had the biggest Ajax chance in the first half, but his header was no problem for Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini. At the other end, Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon missed an opportunity for the Italians when his shot went wide.
In the second half, Brobbey didn’t return because he had suffered a knock after a clash of heads with teammate Nicolas Tagliafico. Quincy Promes replaced him.
Chances for both teams were rare in the second half until the 60th minute, when Ajax midfielder Davy Klaassen’s shot was saved by Gollini.
After 18-year-old Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch received his second yellow card for a foul on Atalanta captain Alejandro Gomez, the home team had to finish with 10 men.
Atalanta substitute Luis Muriel decided the match with a late goal for the visitors.
With the win, Atalanta finished on 11 points from six matches in Group D, two behind Liverpool, who drew 1-1 with bottom side FC Midtjylland.
Ajax ended as third on seven points and will drop into the Europa League next year.