Chelsea travelled to the Netherlands knowing they were through to the knockout stages as long as they avoided a heavy defeat to last year’s runners-up. A win for Chelsea would see them qualify ahead of Ajax in second, however three points for Ajax would put them top ahead of CSKA Moscow.
The home side came out attacking and forced Chelsea’s impressive young keeper Mitchell Beeney into a fine save from an early free-kick.
Groenendyk’s team enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges however it was the English side who found the back of the net first. Alex Kiwomya proved his pace to latch onto a well threaded ball and finish after twelve minutes.
Ajax brought themselves straight back into the game four minutes later; Geordi Bitter headed in from close range after Gravenberch's long-range effort beat the keeper only to come back off the bar.
This led to an exciting thirty minutes as both sides fought to gain the lead. Chelsea perhaps had the better of the period and were rewarded when Feruz reacted quickly to dispossess Ajax and slot the ball past Leeuwenburgh minutes before the break.
Chelsea began the second half as they finished the first, with a goal from Islam Feruz. The Scotland U21 international kept his composure after a perfectly weighted through-ball from 16-year-old Jerome Boga left him with a one-on-one.
Now with a two goal deficit Ajax needed to stamp their authority on the game, and they did. With fifteen minutes left on the clock Lesley De Sa was pulled down in the box, then proceeded to calmly convert the penalty.
The final quarter of an hour became a ferocious affair as Chelsea battled to maintain their lead. With the wind against them and a fired-up Ajax side spurred on by their home fans it proved just beyond the Blues, who conceded in the final minute when substitute de Bondt scored from close-range to bag his first goal of the tournament.
The result leaves both facing tough ties in the next round as Chelsea travel to Mini Estadi to face Barcelona and Ajax host in-form Aston Villa at De Toekomst.