‘We were under par’: Eriksen admits Spurs flopped in Ajax loss
Christian Eriksen admitted Tottenham were well below their best as Ajax seized the initiative with a 1-0 win in their Champions League semifinal first leg on Tuesday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were out-classed in the first half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and fell behind to Donny van de Beek’s 15th minute strike.
Tottenham were slightly better in the second half, but Ajax remained the more cohesive team and could have added a second goal when David Neres hit a post in the closing stages.
Denmark playmaker Eriksen was one of many Tottenham stars who failed to shine on the night and he conceded it was far from their best display.
“We were under-par, we didn’t play our best at all. In the first 20 minutes, we were ball-watchers. We need to change it up a lot for the next game,” Eriksen told BT Sport.
“We made them look a lot better. They are a good side, but we helped them along the way. It was our fault. We were better in the second half.
“No one wanted to play the first half we did. Everyone knew we didn’t compete. We still lost, but we were better in the second half.”
Tottenham’s cause wasn’t helped by the absence of injured leading scorer Harry Kane and suspended forward Son Heung-min.
But Eriksen insisted Tottenham shouldn’t use that as an excuse.
“We can’t keep talking about injured players. In a semifinal it doesn’t matter who plays, we have to step up,” he said.
“At the start, the system didn’t matter. The change gave us a different way to press, to play more direct. But we were still far from where we know we can be.”
Only one of the 17 previous teams to lose the first leg at home in a European Cup semifinal has progressed into the final – ironically Ajax in 1995-96.
Tottenham will have Son back from his ban for the second leg and Eriksen said it could have been much worse for the side going into the decisive return in Amsterdam next week.
“We’re lucky they hit the post and hopefully we can turns things around in Amsterdam,” he added.
Ajax goal-scorer van de Beek warned his side not to get carried away by their first leg success after failing to completely kill off Tottenham.
“The first 30 minutes we played really good. After that, Tottenham changed something tactical and we had problems. 1-0 is OK and next week we have to finish it,” he told BT Sport.
“The beginning was good, but after that we played not what we can.
“We have to make a good plan for next week. We have to stay calm. We can do better.”