Chelsea mounted a stirring fightback from 4-1 down to earn a crucial Champions League point as Ajax ended with nine men on a night of high drama at Stamford Bridge.
Ajax, semi-finalists last season, were in calm control and looked on course for victory when Donny van de Beek gave them a three-goal advantage 10 minutes after the break – but in a chaotic closing period Chelsea completed a remarkable recovery as the visitors lost their discipline.
Tammy Abraham’s own goal gave Ajax an early lead and even though Chelsea were quickly on terms through Jorginho’s penalty, they were in trouble at half-time after Quincy Promes headed in a brilliant cross from Hakim Ziyech, who then saw his free-kick inadvertently deflected in by keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Van de Beek looked to have settled matters but Cesar Azpilicueta pulled one back for Chelsea, before Ajax lost Daley Blind and Joel Veltman within a minute to second yellow cards, with the dismissals followed by a penalty which Jorginho scored again to set up a frantic finale.
Reece James then pulled Chelsea level and Azpilicueta thought he had scored the winner, only for the video assistant referee to intervene and detect a handball by Abraham.
The UEFA Champions League holders Liverpool on their part collected another victory in their relentless campaign by sneaking past Genk at a subdued Anfield.
Jürgen Klopp’s side lost to Napoli in their opening Group E game – their only loss in any competition this season – but have picked up three straight wins to move towards the knockout stages.
Georginio Wijnaldum stabbed into the roof of the net from close range after captain Sebastian Dewaest made a mess of clearing James Milner’s low cross.
With the hosts failing to build on their 14th-minute lead, Genk’s Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta powerfully headed in the equaliser at the near post from a corner five minutes before half-time.
But having scored twice in Belgium when Genk were beaten 4-1 on 23 October, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the match-winner early in the second half, spinning and converting a low strike into the bottom corner.