Davinson Sanchez was left scratching his head over our slow start against Ajax – but emphasised the players know what they have to do with so much on the line in the next three matches.
Donny van de Beek scored the only goal of the game inside a quarter-of-an-hour at the new stadium to give the Eredivisie giants a 1-0 lead in the first leg of our Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night, leaving us with work to do in the return match in Amsterdam next Wednesday.
Before that, we travel to AFC Bournemouth on Saturday lunchtime knowing victory would finally secure a top four spot in the Premier League and a highly sought-after place back at European football’s top table for next season. It would also avoid the race for Champions League qualification going down to the final day, when we host Everton.
After doing battle with his former employers on Tuesday, centre-half Davinson was determined to stay positive.
“Tonight was a little bit unlucky because we tried but in the first 20 or 25 minutes, we didn’t find the football that we normally play,” he said. “In the second half, when Moussa (Sissoko) was on the pitch, the team tried, pushed in every moment but we didn’t find our target that we normally find. We have to be clever in that point because when you are in this moment of the competition, you have to play well but to score goals as well.
“You cannot say any reason (why we started slowly). Everyone was excited to play this game, so motivated to play, but sometimes it happens like that. You want to play, but on the pitch it comes out the opposite. A lot of things happen, the opponents make it difficult but it’s not a point to speak about the motivation. When you’re playing in the semi-finals of the Champions League, you think that you have to play with your life. Ajax played well but it’s always up to us – if we let them play well, of course they’re going to play well, but if we’re going to play properly like we normally do we’ve got much more of a chance. We have to try there (in Amsterdam) to push back and not let them play this football.
“These are important games now – not just in this competition but in the Premier League too. Saturday at Bournemouth is so important for us and we know what we have to do to face the rest of the season. We are looking forward, not just in the Premier League but the Champions League as well. We are still alive and we believe in our team.”