Markus Henriksen opened the scoring with just five minutes on the watch, but the Tigers were pegged back by the hosts as a Michael Dawson own goal and a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar strike gave the Dutch side a 2-1 lead the break.
Frenkie De Jong extended his side’s lead with a close-range finish six minutes into the second half. However, two goals inside the final 13 minutes from Dany Batty and James Weir ensured it was honours even at the end of the end of the game.
Leonid Slutsky handed Michael Hector a first appearance in a black and amber shirt following his arrival from Chelsea on loan on Thursday, with Ondrej Mazuch dropping to the bench from the side that drew 0-0 with FC Nantes in midweek. Kamil Grosicki missed out due to illness.
The Tigers were rewarded for an impressive start to the game with the opening goal after just five minutes, as Henriksen burst into Ajax box and produced a composed finish to slot the ball past onrushing Benjamin van Leer.
However, the lead lasted just two minutes as the hosts got themselves back on level in fortunate circumstances. Carel Eiting’s shot looked to be heading wide of McGregor’s goal until it cannoned off the knee of Michael Dawson and into the back of the net.
The Dutch side then took the lead on 17 minutes when a cross-field pass released Mitchell Dijks down the right and his precise low cross was fired home from close range by veteran forward Huntelaar.
The all-action start to the friendly fixture continued just a minute later when the Tigers should have been awarded a penalty. From a left-wing corner, Fraizer Campbell was clearly hauled to the ground inside the box, but the referee opted to wave play on – much to the frustration of the players in black and amber.
Ajax wasted a decent opportunity to put the Tigers’ backline under further pressure on 26 minutes after Kevin Stewart was harshly adjudged to have fouled Vaclav Cerny 30 yards from goal. De Jong was on set-piece duties for the home side, but over hit his delivery resulting in the ball going straight out for a goal kick.
Good defensive work from Ola Aina saw him halt David Neres’ promising forward fun inside the box, before the Tigers wasted a glorious opportunity to level the scores moments later. Sam Clucas’ free-kick was missed by everyone inside the box and fell invitingly for Hector, who could only volley over at the back post.
Neres caused more problems in the Tigers’ defensive third on 33 minutes when he came within inches of making it 3-1, dragging a fine effort from the edge of the box narrowly wide of McGregor’s right-hand post.
McGregor was called upon to a routine save five minutes before the break to keep out Vaclav’s 20-yard effort after neat play from the Czech youngster.
Slutsky made one change at the break with Max Clark coming on to replace Brian Lenihan, which resulted in Aina switching to right-back with Clark slotting in at left-back.
Ajax started the brighter of the two sides in the second half as Neres looked to pick out Huntelaar inside the box, with only good defensive work from Dawson ensuring the Dutch striker couldn’t get to the ball.
Neres stung the hands of McGregor before the home side made it 3-1 as De Jong slotted home from inside the six-yard box nine minutes into the second half.
The Tigers made a second change of the afternoon before the restart as Adama Diomande was introduced into the action in place of Abel Hernández, before a third substation came six minutes later Weir came on to replace Fraizer Campbell.
Diomande’s first real involvement in the action saw him concede a free-kick inside the Ajax box, which resulted a heated exchange between the Norwegian and Zeefuik Deyovaisio but play quickly resumed after both players received a ticking off from the Dutch referee.
More changes followed as Batty and Greg Olley replaced Clucas and Stewart in midfield, whilst Mazuch was brought on in place of skipper Michael Dawson, which resulted in McGregor taking the captain’s armband.
Somewhat against the run of the play, the Tigers halved the deficit with 13 minutes remaining. Diomande couldn’t manage to turn in Olley’s pull-back, but the ball dropped favourably for Batty inside the box, who drilled a low strike past van Leer and into the back of the net.
With their tails up, Slutsky’s side went in search of an equaliser and just moments after the restart, the ball sat up nicely for Aina on the edge of the Ajax box but the full-back could only send his effort on the half-volley high over the bar.
It wasn’t too long before the equaliser did arrive though as – with just five minutes to play – a quick break led by Aina resulted in the ball coming to Diomande inside the box. Under pressure from the home defence, the Norwegian managed to get the ball to Weir, who produced a neat finish with his left-foot to find the bottom corner and complete the comeback.
Hull City: McGregor, Lenihan (Clark 46), Aina, Dawson (Mazuch 72), Hector, Stewart (Olley 68), Clucas (Batty 65), Henriksen, Bowen, Campbell (Weir), Hernández (Diomande).
Subs Not Used: Andrew, Clackstone, Luer.