Ajax came from behind to beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 and qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League Wednesday, but the hosts were left fuming after Mats Hummels was controversially sent off in the first half.
In a tense reprise of Ajax’s thumping 4-0 win in Amsterdam two weeks previously, Dortmund held an unlikely lead almost 40 minutes before Dusan Tadic, Sebastien Haller and Davy Klaassen turned the game to send Ajax into the next round.
Dortmund were furious at English referee Michael Oliver’s decision to send off Hummels in the first half, which they insisted was too harsh.
Victory means Ajax are now guaranteed a place in the knockout rounds, with a six-point lead over both Dortmund and second-placed Sporting Lisbon, who thrashed Besiktas 4-0.
Dortmund’s visit to Lisbon in three weeks time now looks set to decide which of the two will join the Dutch side in the last 16.
Desperate for revenge after their humiliation in Amsterdam, Dortmund missed two good chances to take the lead early on, Mats Hummels shaving the bar with a header before Jude Bellingham missed a sitter minutes later.
Free in the box after Marco Reus had rounded Ajax keeper Remko Pasveer, the England midfielder somehow managed to head a gentle cross wide of the empty net.
The home side were bracing for another miserable night when Hummels was controversially sent off just before the half-hour mark.
The veteran defender was angry after VAR upheld English referee Michael Oliver’s decision to show the red card following a poorly-timed challenge on Antony.
Yet Dortmund showed unusual grit with ten men, and were rewarded with a VAR decision in their favour just five minutes later.
After Bellingham was clipped by Noussair Mazraoui in the box, Reus buried the resulting penalty into the bottom corner to give the home side an unlikely lead.
Marco Rose’s side weathered an early storm after the break, but they finally buckled with 20 minutes to go.
A dangerous inswinging cross from Antony unsettled the Dortmund defence, and Dusan Tadic prodded the ball in at the far post.
The Brazilian sent an almost identical ball into the area ten minutes later, and French striker Sebastien Haller nodded in to complete Ajax’s comeback.
Antony completed a hat-trick of assists in injury time, setting up Davy Klaassen with a late tap-in to rub salt in Dortmund’s wounds.