Sublime Ajax knock Ronaldo and Juve out of Champions League
Ajax have beaten Juventus in Turin to book their place in the semi-finals after goals by Van der Beek and De Light cancelled out the home side's initial lead through Ronaldo.
Ajax are through to their first Champions League semi-final since 1997 after they stunned Juventus in Turin to beat the home side 2-1.
Following an uneventful opening 20 minutes, the game began to open up with Juventus taking the lead through Cristiano Ronaldo in the 27th minute – the ex-Real Madrid star latching onto the end of a corner with his head to drive the ball past Onana from 12 yards out.
But as was the case last week in Amsterdam, it did not take Ajax long to respond with a goal of their own in the 33rd minute, when a shot from outside the box rebounded into the path of Donny Van der Beek. The 21-year-old was unmarked and inside the box as he coolly side-footed a shot past an outstretched Szczesny and into the bottom right corner.
The second half began with Ajax really taking the game to the hosts and it continued that way as the visitors made several chances in those first 20 minutes after the break. After having played some sublime football, the immense pressure they had exerted on a rattled Juventus finally paid off when 19-year-old captain De Ligt scored with his head from a corner in the 66th minute. The visitors could have easily been 3-1 up less than 10 minutes later, had an unmarked Neres done better with a close-range effort inside the right-hand side of the box.
Just five minutes after the Neres chance, Ajax had the ball in the back of the net again, this time through Ziyech. But the Moroccan midfielder was rightfully deemed offside, after having rocketed a shot into the right corner from inside the box.
Meanwhile, with the score at 2-3 on aggregate and Ajax with two valuable away goals, Juventus needed to score two goals to win the overall tie, but could hardly muster up a decent chance in the final half an hour against their clearly dominant opponents.
After having invested 341 million euros (total including wages and transfer fees) in Cristiano Ronaldo with the hopes of securing Champions League glory, the Old Lady see themselves knocked out at the last-eight stage by an impressive Ajax side, who have shown themselves more than capable of bringing down big opposition in this year’s competition.
With the scalps of Real Madrid and Juventus now sitting in the pouch, Ten Hag's young side will not be taken lightly by their semi-final opponents, whoever they may be.
Juventus vs Ajax: live updates
Juventus vs Ajax: preview
Ajax travel to Juventus for the second leg of the Champions League quarter final tie at Juventus stadium on Tuesday, as the Dutch club look to reach their first semi-final since 1997.
Standing in their way of course is Juventus and their star man Cristiano Ronaldo. After scoring the hat-trick against Atlético Madrid in the last round, the Portuguese added yet another goal to his European tally at the Amsterdam Arena last week, giving the visitors the lead just before the break.
That lead was short-lived however, with Ajax finding an equaliser immediately after the break through David Neres. The Dutch side dominated the game in terms of possession and shots on goal, but could not find the second goal that would have given them a cushion going into tonight’s clash.
Juve will be expected be the more dominant side at home, where they hold an 11-game unbeaten record against tonight's opponents. With Mario Mandzukic injured, Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Bernadeschi are expected to lead from the front. Coach Massimiliano Allegri will also be without Juan Cuadrado and central defence stalwart Giorgio Chiellini. The Old Lady are chasing their first Champions League title since 1996, the year they beat then-holders Ajax in the final.
If Ajax are to put themselves in a position to reach their first final since 1996, they will need the likes of Neres, Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Dusan Tadic at their best for the uphill task of beating Juve at home. But Coach Erik Ten Hag will undoubtedly remind his players of the heroics they pulled off against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu that got them to this stage of the competition.
“At the beginning of the season, nobody expected us to be among the final eight of the Champions League, together with the giants,” said Ten Hag. “But the team has developed so much that we can hold our own against these clubs. We believe in that, and believe in a good result. That’s how we will meet Juve tomorrow.”
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