Manic, chaotic and unflinchingly hostile, this was football played in a whirlwind, Ajax unleashing another storm on this season's Champions League to set up a fascinating second leg against Juventus.

The Italians will believe they are too good to be beaten at home by this Ajax side, that the hard work has been done in Amsterdam. Yet so did Real Madrid when they won 2-1 in the Netherlands last month.

Ajax will not mind this 1-1 result and will fancy their chances. They were brilliant, brave and reckless. A young, hyperactive team, refusing to be sedated. There might not be a team left in this year's competition better equipped to stifle Ajax's exuberance than Juventus, yet even they found it a thankless task; exhausting and stressful.

The hostility was everywhere: around the stadium as Juventus supporters were given a police escort into their stand, then inside it where the noise throbbed.


It was meant to intimidate. Even before a ball had been kicked there was tension, a coiled spring ready to release. Ajax's players felt it. They heard it. They sucked it in and then they released it.

Ajax hunted in packs and at high speed, looking to force an early mistake, to catch the Italian champions cold out of the dressing room.

From start to finish, everywhere Juventus' players looked there seemed to be someone in a red and white shirt hurtling towards them.

Juventus will have anticipated what was coming, yet still the ferocity of Ajax's opening assault stunned them, rocking them back.

Even the calmest heads can become muddled under extreme pressure and, for 15 minutes, Ajax tore into Juventus, throwing themselves forward in packs, hunting and pressing, looking to force an early mistake, to catch the Italian champions before they had got their match bearings.

You could see the impact. Juventus players rushed and stressed, Rodrigo Bentancur kicking a free-kick straight out of play as he tried to play it square, Joao Cancelo dribbling the ball out under harassment from David Neres.

Juventus, though, have removed many a sting from an angry tail and held firm, the defence stretched but unbroken. Ajax dominated territory but they could not pass their way through.

Neres hit the side-netting, Donny van de Beek fell away as he tried to steer a shot beyond Wojciech Szczesny. It was let off for Juventus.

Ajax's best effort belonged to Hakim Ziyech, the Morocco international, bending a shot which was heading for the top corner.

Szczesny saw it cleanly, though, and was able to adjust his feet to tip it over the bar.

Juventus began to look a little more comfortable. They knew Ajax would not be able to continue at such a pace for long. They waited, bided their time and in the final seconds before the halftime whistle was blown, they took the lead.

The warning signs were there, Miralem Pjanic going close, Cristiano Ronaldo testing the goalkeeper with his feet one moment, beating him with his head the next, charging through the middle of the Ajax defence with a perfectly timed run to meet Cancelo's cross.

Juventus will have felt in control at the interval. They were mistaken. Ajax were not deflated and they were level within seconds of the restart, Neres twisting and feinting his way into the area and between wrong-footed defenders and then bending a shot into the far corner.

- Telegraph Group Ltd