Jorginho on Tuesday scored two penalties as Chelsea came roaring back from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 with nine-man Ajax in a UEFA Champions League classic, while holders Liverpool claimed a narrow victory and a stuttering Barcelona were held to a scoreless draw.
There was also a rousing comeback win for Borussia Dortmund over Inter and a big success for Valencia, but the greatest drama was at Stamford Bridge.
Ajax appeared to be heading for a stunning victory when Hakim Ziyech set up Donny van de Beek to put them 4-1 ahead 10 minutes into the second half.
Before that, Jorginho quickly leveled from the spot after Tammy Abraham’s own-goal gave the Dutch champions a second-minute lead, but a Quincy Promes header and a Kepa Arrizabalaga own-goal made it 3-1 at the break.
After conceding again, Cesar Azpilicueta poked in from close range for Chelsea to pull it back to 4-2, and then came the crazy moment midway through the second half that really gave them hope.
In one fell swoop, Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi sent off Ajax’s Daley Blind and seconds later dismissed Joel Veltman for a second caution for a handball in the box.
Jorginho then converted the resulting penalty.
Teenager Reece James made it 4-4 and Chelsea thought they had gone in front when Azpilicueta fired in, but that goal was disallowed for an Abraham handball.
“I can’t explain the game. For all the things we might analyze back, the madness of the game, we are here for entertainment, I suppose, and anyone who watched that has to say: ‘What a game of football.’ Respect to Ajax, what a spectacle,” Chelsea boss Frank Lampard told BT Sport.
The result means that Ajax, Chelsea and Valencia are level on seven points atop Group H after the Spanish side came from behind to beat Lille OSC 4-1.
Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen put Lille ahead at halftime, but Dani Parejo’s penalty restored parity and Valencia then scored three times in the final eight minutes.
Adama Soumaoro’s own-goal was followed by a stunning Geoffrey Kondogbia strike and a Ferran Torres effort, eliminating Lille from the competition.
Liverpool won 4-1 at Genk two weeks ago and looked on course for another comfortable victory against the Belgian side when Georginio Wijnaldum gave them the lead at Anfield.
However, with manager Juergen Klopp resting several players ahead of Sunday’s clash with Manchester City, the reigning European champions were pegged back.
Tanzanian striker Mbwana Ally Samatta headed Genk level before the interval, and it took a fine strike by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to win the game.
“The plan was to win the game and we did that, so job done,” Klopp said.
Liverpool are top of Group E, a point above SSC Napoli, who could have qualified for the last 16 with a win against Salzburg, but were held to a 1-1 draw.
Erling Braut Haaland’s early penalty — the 19-year-old’s seventh Champions League goal this season — gave Salzburg the lead, before Hirving Lozano equalized.
In Germany, Inter looked to be heading for a second straight win against Dortmund as they raced into a 2-0 halftime lead, with Lautaro Martinez and Matias Vecino scoring.
Yet, Dortmund fought back in the second half to win the game as Achraf Hakimi grabbed a brace either side of a Julian Brandt goal.
That leaves Dortmund second place in Group F, three points ahead of Inter and one behind Barcelona, who are still top, despite a 0-0 draw at home to Slavia Prague.