Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag couldn’t resist poking fun at Chelsea on his last visit to Stamford Bridge when he was embroiled in a controversial 4-4 draw with Ajax.
The west Londoners, then managed by Frank Lampard, were second-best for well over an hour in a Champions League group stage clash in 2019 – although the game turned on its head in the 70th minute.
In a chaotic part of the game, a foul by Daley Blind was waved on by the referee, which then resulted in Chelsea being awarded a soft penalty after allegedly touching the ball by Joel Veltman.
The referee then went back and booked both players for a second time, leaving Ajax with just nine men on the pitch.
Given the double jeopardy law, Ajax’s triple punishment – sending two players off and conceding penalties – was a very tough pill for Ten Hag, which he still hasn’t forgotten.
The Netherlands manager takes his current United side to Stamford Bridge on Saturday night and specifically cited the poor function he had last time out.
Asked about his experience playing against the west Londoners previously, Ten Hag told United’s website: “I hope we don’t see ourselves playing at 12 tomorrow [people on the other team]. If we play at 11 I think we have a good chance of winning.’
Ten Hag was clearly referring to what he saw as biased refereeing performances in his two clashes against Chelsea, with the then-Ajax boss extremely angry at the time.
After the 4:4 he said: “I am very disappointed with this result, not only today but also two weeks ago. Some decisions weren’t on our side and I think we could have had four points, but instead we only have one – and I think we certainly deserved four points.
“But some decisions were beyond our power and went against us and we only have one point.
“I think we played great, we needed to play better with the ball and we did that. We dictated the game and were leading 4-1 and also 4-2 we had the game under control.
“And then in one moment in the game everything changes. I think it’s a foul on Daley Blind and then he fouls because he was fouled and then handball and then two yellows that become two reds and then a penalty.
“I think we were penalized several times, first Daley Blind, then Joel Veltman, the penalty and then they are suspended for the next game as well. So that’s what disappoints me.
“Have I seen anything like this before? No! I think if you have VAR like we have and it’s good, then you think that can’t happen. But it happened. And it happened in Amsterdam without getting a penalty and now it’s happened again. We deserved to win tonight, with 11 and also with 9.’
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