The previous time Cesar Azpilicueta appeared in Amsterdam in a Chelsea shirt he witnessed Branislav Ivanovic score a very late goal to seal a Europa League final victory over Benfica.
Six-and-half years later and playing against Ajax in their own stadium, the goal did not come quite so late but that did not dim the sense of joy and relief felt by the Spaniard who is now our team captain.Back in that 2013 match Cesar Azpilicueta was playing only his 47th Chelsea game. Last night was his 350th, a total he has reached rapidly. Over the course of his time with the Blues he has played in all but 16 per cent of our games.Having marked his latest milestone with a win and a good performance both personally and by the team, he reflected on the 1-0 victory over Ajax.‘It is a massive result for us,’ Azpilicueta declared. ‘We needed to come here and get points, and we got what we wanted and we had to work until the end.‘We knew Ajax are a team with a lot of energy, very dynamic. They were playing the ball quick with a lot of rotation. They have dangerous attacking players so we knew we had to be ready and in the beginning we struggled a little bit to deal with the pressure and to keep the ball, even though we had a couple of good chances, good counters.‘From that point in the game we were getting the ball quicker and our wingers were very quick to press high up the pitch. They did an amazing job and it was very important the midfielders played with high intensity.‘We were brave and we are very happy to get a late goal and a very important one from Michy.’
At one stage in the first half it appeared Chelsea were the team that had gone a goal behind but after a VAR check, Ajax’s strike was ruled out. It’s an experience Azpilicueta had been on the other end of when he thought he had opened the scoring against Liverpool a month ago but that too was disallowed.‘Sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it goes against,’ he said as he reflected on the Ajax goal which was chalked off. ‘I knew that the linesman was ready to put the flag up but he was right not to do it and to wait for the VAR to check it, and that is what the VAR is for.’Both teams had been going for a sixth successive win in all competitions but it was only Chelsea who were able to continue our run.‘We are in good form, we are winning games,’ noted the skipper. ‘It is true we did not start the competition the way we wanted but we knew we were improving as a team and that we had to work hard. It is a long season and we are still in October. Even if we got the three points on Wednesday night there is nothing done, we have to play Ajax at Stamford Bridge, we have three games to play in the group stage and we have to keep working because at the moment we haven’t achieved anything.‘Now we have three days until we play again, against Burnley. We know what it means to play every three days at the top level, we have to be ready for every single game. We expect a tough game against Burnley and we have to be ready to get the three points.’
Read: Frank Lampard's verdict on the win in the Netherlands