Ajax beat Tottenham Hotspur with ease at White Hart Lane in the first of two UEFA Champions League Semi-Final round-ups, with Barcelona v Liverpool to come.
The hitchhiking is over.
Manchester City, Real Madrid and Juventus tried and failed.
It was an unlikely pairing.
White Hart Lane was pregnant with anticipation.
The home side failed to deliver.
Ajax entered the newest stadium in the smoke as a 9/2 shot to win the Champions League and left 3/1 after a professional job on Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Ajax has the average age of the Disney Channel subscription service, but you wouldn’t have noticed as they dominated possession, early doors. Spurs began like a mopy teenager wandering around a library searching for a video game, and the opening goal went to form.
With 15-minutes on the clock, the ball found its way to David Neres with acres of space on the left. The Brazilian star slipped the ball to Hakim Ziyech, who found Donny van de Beek running between Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen. At the end of the move, van de Beek was face to face with Hugo Lloris. A quick feint sent the Frenchman to his knees, and the subsequent shot found the back of the net.
Ten minutes later, and Ajax should have made it two with the best moment of the match.
Joël Veltman fed van de Beek at the edge of the box. The 22-year-old dummied, turned and latched on to the return ball from Dusan Tadic. Neres was screaming for the ball in the six-yard box, but van de Beek chose to shoot instead of pass, and Lloris made the save.
Spurs looked woeful without the skills of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Harry Winks, and Eric Lamela, and shorn of any sense of a backbone with Eric Dier out and Moussa Sissoko on the bench.
One of the few scraps of hope that came Spurs’ way did so in the 26th minute when Fernando Llorente got on the end of a Keiran Trippier free-kick only for his header to fly wide.
Then came a crucial moment for Spurs when they lost Vertonghen after the Belgian sustained a facial injury in a clash with Toby Alderweireld and the Ajax keeper, Andre Onana.
The injury resulted in Pochettino putting Sissoko onto the park, and moving into a back four. From that moment on, despite the lack of penetration, Spurs controlled the play, and Sissoko was instrumental in that.
Nicolás Tagliafico smashed a screamer wide in the first minute after the break, and Dele Alli headed over the bar after some good work from Lucas Moura and Trippier, but the chances were few and far between in the second half, the best of which went to Neres who struck the inside of the post with only Lloris to beat.
After winning four games without conceding at the new stadium, Spurs has now lost two consecutively, without scoring. Kane will still be missing for the second leg in the Netherlands Wed 8 May, but Son returns after suspension and based on this display they need him, badly.
Liverpool travels to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona in the second semi-final this evening with the bookies making Barcelona the 17/20 favourite, with Liverpool a 10/3 shot.