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Bayern Munich and Ajax deliver six-goal thriller on memorable European night
Published in Daily News Egypt on 13 - 12 - 2018

In a game between the top two sides that had already secured qualification, Bayern vs. Ajax ended up being one of the most entertaining games in Champions League history. The result saw Bayern keep top spot in the group.Ajax 3-3 Bayern Munich
(Tadic 62', 82' pen., Süle o.g. 90+5' – Lewandowski 13', 87' pen., Coman 90')
In one of the most entertaining games of the season, Ajax and Bayern Munich took a fixture that looked little more than a formality and turned it into a thriller.
Ajax enjoyed more of the ball in the early stages, but it was Bayern who struck first. Looking at their most dangerous on the break, Niko Kovac's side found a way through when the electric Serge Gnabry threaded the pass for Robert Lewandowski to tuck past Andre Onana.
Ajax enjoyed a few half chances thereafter, but it was Bayern who really should have doubled their lead. The visitors broke and Gnabry set up Lewandowski again, but this time Onana was well-placed to deny the striker.
Restored by the break, Ajax pressed again and soon found their equalizer. Brilliant interplay saw Hakim Ziyech flick the ball over the defense to put Donny van de Beek through on the right-hand side of the box. His low ball was tapped in by Dusan Tadic at the back post and Ajax were level.
Frantic finale
That goal sparked a sequence that ended in a crazy final 30 minutes. Onana made a spectacular save to deny Lewandowski and then Ajax's Maximilian Wober was sent off for a studs up tackle. Just minutes after Wober's red, Thomas Müller – on his club record-tying 105th Champions League appearance – also saw red for a high boot that cut Nicolas Tagliafico on the head.
With Bayern's possession percentage down below 30, the game remained wide open. Jerome Boateng went to ground too early and took out substitute Kasper Dolberg, which gave Ajax a penalty that Tadic converted.
Suddenly, the hosts were top of the group and Bayern were desperate. Off the bench, Thiago provided a spark, danced into the area and won a penalty that Lewandowski converted. That appeared to be that, but then Kingsley Coman curled a beauty into the far corner as the 90th minute ticked over to seemingly seal the win for Bayern.
And yet, in the fifth of seven added minutes, Ajax scored a third when Süle slid Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's cross into his own net. From red cards to penalties and own goals, the game had everything, and although it ended in a draw that kept Bayern top and Ajax second, it was truly memorable.
The draw for the knockout rounds will be held on Monday, December 17. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund finished top of their respective groups, while Schalke finished second in theirs. Hoffenheim was the only German side not to progress, finishing last in Group F.
As it happened:
And that's it! There's no more drama left! What a game!
90+5' GOAL! 3-3 Ajax (Süle o.g.) We hadn't had an own goal to be fair, but wow! A blocked shot loops into the box, Huntelaar has it on the corner of the six-yard box and, with Neuer closing, he squares it to Tagliafico. The defender does enough to force Süle into a tackle, and he ends up sliding the ball into his own net. Madness!
90' GOAL! 3-2 Bayern (Coman) A poor clearance by de Jong, Bayern get it on the edge of the box, work it to Kingsley Coman and he tucks it inside before curling beautifully into the far corner. What a goal. A worthy winner in a stunning match.
89' Sanches and Huntelaar are on for Bayern and Ajax respectively. Anything left in this one? Surely not…
87' GOAL! 2-2 Bayern (Lewandowski) The Pole hesitates, but then sends Onana the wrong way to stun the crowd. His celebrations are met with a host of middle fingers and a shower of bottles. The only thing that we haven't needed tonight.
86' PENALTY BAYERN! Thiago goes on a mazy run all the way into the box, and Tagliafico clumsily takes him down. Easy decision. This game has had everything!
86' Bayern look a bit shaken, understandably. Renato Sanches is coming on. Not long left. Is there one more twist in the tale?
82' GOAL! 2-1 Ajax (Tadic) Neuer stands still, Tadic goes top right and Ajax go top of the group. Madness. What a game.
81' PENALTY AJAX! Boateng is late on Dolberg (fresh off the bench) and that's a clear spot kick.
80' Well, for a game that didn't matter in the standings, this has been a thriller. Tagliafico dons a new shirt and is back on – blimey. Bayern are trying to find a winner. Rafinha does everything right, dancing into the box, but Goretzka can't control it and the chance goes.
75' RED CARD! Not a night for Thomas Müller to remember, despite the milestone. The forward leaps with a high foot for the ball and clatters Nicolas Tagliafico in the head. Another easy decision. Good night Thomas. Tagliafico gets the cut in his heads sown up on the pitch. Ouch.
71' Change for Bayern. Ribery off, Coman on. The younger Frenchman said this week that he would consider retirement if these injuries kept happening. What a shame that would be, given his talent. Can he be the game changer now? Bayern's possession down to 22 percent…
68' RED CARD! These last five minutes have had everything. Maximilian Wober clatters into Leon Goretzka and sees straight red. Studs into ankle. Ouch. No doubt. Bayern have a man advantage now. Oh and Thiago is on (for Gnabry).
66' SAVE! This game has burst into life again. Lewandowski leaps to head in a cross that Ribery had hung up for him, and Onana makes a superb save, moving against the direction of where his body was moving to keep it out.
61' GOAL! 1-1 Ajax (Tadic) And now Bayern have been burned! What a brilliant goal by the home side and no less than they deserve. Neat interplay eventually sees Ziyech flick a ball into the box that van de Beek squares for Tadic to tap in at the back post. A dream move. Game on! Ajax now need one more to top the group…
58' CHANCE! Ziyech dances into the box on the right, sets is back to Neres but he blazes over! Bayern playing with fire a bit.
55' Another one of those nearly but not quite chances for Ajax. Neres gets some space on the left, squares it but it flies past anyone and everyone.
50' Relatively slow start to the second half, but still a good tempo. Ribery gets Lewandowski through, but his shot is deflected which makes life easier for Onana.
46' Off we go in the second half. Oh, Leroy Sane scored a superb free kick to level the scores in Manchester by the way. Seems like not playing in Russia this summer has worked out.
HALFTIME
Bayern have played it smartly, conceding lots of possession but looking stable and dangerous on the break. It should have been 2-0, but the lead is still there for Bayern who look intent on breaking records tonight. Ajax have been good and had some excellent moves, but not much end product. Hopefully more to come.
45' After that furious start, the game has slowed a bit, somewhat inevitably. Ajax try to force something, but Ziyech's corner comes to nothing, as does his long-range effort. That looks like that'll be it for the half…
38' Ajax want a handball on the edge of the box, referee Clement Turpin (what a name) says no. Looks a little closer to Rafinha's shoulder on second viewing, so good call. Bayern trying to spread the play around, but Ajax well positioned. Not easy. The air is coming out of this one, slightly.
Update: Over in Manchester, Hoffenheim have taken the lead thanks to an Andrej Kramaric penalty but with Shakhtar winning against Lyon the result would be in vain for Julian Nagelsmann's men.
33' Might be wrong, but it feels like there's going to be a red card in this one. Feels like there's something extra in them. Ajax continue to control the game, but Bayern still ready to pounce.
28' CHANCE! That should be 2-0. Müller breaks forward, Bayern are 5-on-3. He plays it to Gnabry wide right, who passes it to Lewandowski to tap in but Onana's head is in the perfect spot to keep the Pole's shot out. Kimmich hammers the rebound into the Amsterdam atmosphere, but was clattered by de Ligt in the process. Kimmich isn't happy and gets a yellow for his protests.
26' CHANCE! Great cross from the right by Neres, and van de Beek gets there first but his header is straight at Neuer. Can't help but feel there are more goals in this one…
24' Ajax's pressing is impressive, but it of course begs the question: how long can they keep it up? Goretzka hasn't played well so far, which is a problem for a Bayern midfield that also includes Kimmich. Ribery does it all down the left, but his shot is also comfortable for Onana. A really good game here.
19' CHANCE! Tadic does brilliantly in the box, and then works it around so that he can lay it off for Blind. His shot looks destined for the net, but it's blocked. The same is true of the rebound. Blind tries to get the ball back in, but is shoved to the ground by Boateng. A penalty? Not sure, but quite a strong shove from the defender. Corner comes to nothing, but it feels like Ajax are back in it now.
18' Ajax doing that thing where they try to find their feet again, but not easy against Bayern. Ziyech fires a long-range effort, but Neuer saves comfortably. Ajax come again, but Süle gets a foot in at the key moment.
13' GOAL! 1-0 Bayern Munich (Lewandowski) But not far enough! Gnabry, who started the attack, ends up with the ball after Ajax just hacked it clear and the 23-year-old sends a great ball through Ajax's defense to put Lewandowski through. He makes no mistake and that is how you quieten your hosts. Just like that, Bayern are ahead.
12' CHANCE! Ajax still threading the ball through the line superbly, but there's Gnabry again! The forward sprints forward with the ball but shoots perhaps a tad early. Onana makes a good save, but the corner is cleared…
10' One of those sloppy passes falls to Gnabry, he bursts forward into the box on the right hand side, but chooses to shoot rather than pass and that proves an error. Lewandowski was screaming for it in the middle.
8' A really good pace to this one. Ajax on the front foot, but Bayern look ready to pounce on the break. The home side with more of the ball so far, but both with the occasional sloppy pass.
4' Bayern get their first sniff at goal. Müller works hard to get space after a long ball, finds Lewandowski but his shot isn't hit cleanly and goes wide. The Pole is looking to add to his tally of six goals so far in this competition.
3' CHANCE! A lovely Ajax move gets them into the box. Neres has the presence of mind to lay it back to van de Beek after the midfielder originally laid it in his path, but van de Beek's shot is weak and easy for Neuer. Really flowing move though.
1' Off we go! Bayern in grey, Ajax in the classic white and red.
– Quite the atmosphere in the Johan Cruyff Arena for this one. Lots flags being waved and songs being sung. The players are out and now the magical music is being played. So many memories hearing that one. Few flares in the away end. Might be a fine there…
– It might not have been his season so far, but tonight marks yet another special moment for Thomas Müller. He makes is 105th Champions League appearance tonight, drawing level with Philipp Lahm for the most appearances in the competition made by a Bayern Munich player. Quite the achievement, when you think about it.
– Team news! Bayern opt for a strong team, with Kovac looking to make sure of the result. As expected, Kimmich and Goretzka hold in midfield. Hummels, Thiago, Martinez and Coman are also all on the bench. Ajax will have Frenkie de Jong in midfield to enjoy (perhaps for the last season at Ajax) as well as Hakim Ziyech. This should be good fun!
Bayern Munich XI: Neuer – Alaba, Süle, Boateng, Rafinha – Goretzka, Kimmich – Ribery, Müller, Gnabry – Lewandowski
Ajax XI: Onana – Mazraoui, De Ligt, Wöber, Tagliafico – Van de Beek, Blind, De Jong – Ziyech, Tadic, Neres
– Want more build-up on this one? Take a look at our preview. It's jam-packed with good stuff – promise.
– Good evening! Welcome to the DW live blog for Bayern Munich's final group stage game of the 2018-19 Champions League season. Top of the group with 13 points, Niko Kovac's team need just a draw against second-placed Ajax (who have also already qualified for the knockouts) to keep their spot at the top of the group. If Bayern do win tonight, they will have collected more points in a group stage (15) than any other German side ever. Sounds like the kind of record that Bayern collects, but Ajax will have something to say about that given how well they played in the 1-1 draw in Munich earlier this year.


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