FC Barcelona now have to wait until December 11th for another chance to top the group. They need at least a point against Celtic to secure the top slot and keep AC Milan at bay.
It was clear that Ajax came out with more intent in the first half with the Catalans struggling to gain possession of the ball. The Dutch pressure paid off in the 19th minute with Van Rhijn, who sent a low cross to Serero in the area, who made no mistake.
Barcelona got their heads down and stepped up a notch after the first Ajax goal. Neymar came very close to getting on the scoreboard and Barca finally settled into their usual game. It was at this moment that disaster struck for Martino’s team when Hoesen pounced on a rebound off keeper Pinto to put the Dutch in front by two goals.
After the break, things started to change around. Van Rhijn was the author of a sloppy back pass, which was picked up by Neymar. He found the Ajax area and would most certainly have netted if it weren’t for Veltman bringing him down. Veltman was sent off and Xavi stepped up to the spot to take the kick, which he duly converted. Barca now had practically the whole of the second half to make amends and tie this game up.
The Catalans had enough chances to sew the game up but it didn’t happen. Neymar had the best chances but the goals were not forthcoming. The Dutchmen defended like champions and couldn’t be broken down, even when Gerard Piqué was moved into the Barca attack.
Barcelona have already qualified, so the defeat shouldn’t be seen as a disaster. However, the players will be disappointed not to have clinched the top spot in the group. Meanwhile, Ajax still have it all to do and have to win at the San Siro against AC Milan in order to join the Catalan giants in the last sixteen of the competition.