Ajax reached the second round of UEFA Women’s Champions League qualification in dramatic fashion after a late winner over Eintracht Frankfurt in Northern Denmark.
Having needed late goals to turn their “semi-final” match against Kristianstad around, Ajax hit the ground running in the “final”, claiming their first chance of the game 16 seconds in. The fast break forward was a warning for their opposition one not heeded by the Eagles and they were soon a goal down.
Looking uncomfortable in defence since the kick-off, Frankfurt caved eight minutes in when Chasity Grant was allowed to fire low across Cara Bösl’s goal and give Ajax a well-deserved lead. Instead of further upping the tempo and hammering home their advantage, the Eredivisie runners-up conceded possession as Eintracht came further into the game. Yet, despite their increased attacking presence, Frankfurt could offer no real threats against Lize Kop’s goal.
It would take the second-half introduction of Nicole Anyomi for Frankfurt to finally start looking dangerous in attack. Keen to run at the Ajax defence, the 22-year-old forced a crucial mistake from Kop as she chased down the goalkeeper, denying her a clear kick and forcing the ball into the path of Lara Prašnikar. With the goal gaping, the Slovenian attacker unleashed a curler to wrap the ball around the stranded goalkeeper and arc into the net.
The goal forced Ajax back into life, the team switching from passively holding onto their lead to chasing a winner, stretching the game after the hour. The mistakes continued to flow from both but the increased tempo added an extra layer of interest with both teams going hammer and tong, neither wanting to go extra time. The Frankfurters could have claimed the win ten minutes from time when Barbara Dunst unleashed a shot from inside of the area that rattled against the inside of the post, bounced against the back of Kop’s ankle only to be cleared off the line by Lisa Doorn.
The tie decided with ten seconds of stoppage time left on the clock when Ajax pushed forward and won a corner, the uncleared ball making it only as far as Eshley Bakker. Having come of the bench to turn the tide in the previous match, the substitute repeated her heroics in Hjorring for the second match running when with back to goal, she connected with the ball, sending it over her shoulder and into the back of the net. The two teams saved the extra exertion of a further 30 minutes of football to decide a winner with Ajax through into the hat for the second round of qualification and Eintracht out of the Champions League, a month before their league season has even started.