Wenger commends Ajax defender Blind and goalkeeper Onana, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Wenger commends Ajax defender Blind and goalkeeper Onana

Ajax Amsterdam's fearless wonderkids have been thrust into limelight in recent weeks, following their remarkable feats of slaying football giants Real Madrid and Juventus to storm into the last four of the Champions League.

But yesterday morning (Singapore time), it was Ajax's centre-back Daley Blind, 29, and goalkeeper Andre Onana, 23 - who earned the praise of former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, after the Dutch club upset Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals.

Speaking on beIN Sports, Wenger said: "He (Onana) saw that his team had a hard time with high balls from the side and he dared to go far in front of his goal. And second, Daley Blind. He was outstanding."

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag lauded his brave side as they moved within touching distance of the Champions League final after the win in London, reported Reuters.

Donny van de Beek's well-taken 15th-minute goal put Ajax firmly in the driver's seat against a disappointing Spurs side who face a tough task to turn around the semi-final in next week's second leg in Amsterdam.

Ten Hag said: "A fantastic achievement, we fought like lions. We are halfway there and in good shape. The willpower was very nice to see."

Ajax again showed why so many of their squad are attracting attention from some of the continent's biggest clubs.

Van de Beek was superb and even overshadowed Barcelona-bound fellow midfielder Frenkie de Jong, while 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt showed maturity beyond his years to marshall the defence as Tottenham improved after the break.

Had David Neres not been denied by the post late on, Ajax's position would look impregnable, but ten Hag knows the job is not yet completed.

He said: "I think it's an excellent result for us. We won the game. We have a very good starting point, but we're only halfway through.

"We can play football in different styles, we can defend very well, we have a team that works together really well; they can fight together really well."

Van de Beek, 22, is expecting a tough battle next week at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

He said: "The first 30 minutes were good but we found it tough after that. They changed things up and we had difficulty dealing with that. The second half was really a battle.

"It will be a tough game next week in the Arena but, with our own supporters behind us, it will certainly be a huge boost to reach the final.

"We have to develop a good tactical plan so we can play like we did in the first 30 minutes this evening."