Ajax 1-1 Juventus: David Neres cancels out Cristiano Ronaldo’s diving header as the Old Lady gain crucial away goal following stalemate in Amsterdam
Undoubtedly this season’s feelgood story, gallant Ajax are by no means done yet. That barmy night in the Bernabeu may not be the pinnacle after all.
Juventus endured a scare in Amsterdam, muted by Dutch vibrancy on a night that showed this exciting young team are not merely satisfied with registering a first quarter-final in 16 years.
Ajax head for Turin next week with something to hold and that represents a far more manageable task than against Real Madrid in the previous round. We all know what happened there.
Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was left clasping thin air as David Neres curled Ajax level early in the second half
The 22-year-old Brazilian made the Johan Cruyff erupt with noise after leveling the scoreline in Amsterdam
The home supporters were in raptures as Neres stood before them after scoring Ajax’s equalising goal
Winger Douglas Costa went agonisingly close to restore the lead for the away side, but hit the post after a skillful run
AJAX: Onana, Veltman, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico, F. de Jong, Schone (Ekkelenkamp 75′), Ziyech, Van de Beek, Neres, Tadic
Subs unused: Kristensen, Sinkgraven, Huntelaar, Magallan, Dolberg, Semedo Varela,
Goal: Neres 46′
Booked: Schone, Ekkelenkamp, De Jong, Tagliafico
JUVENTUS: Szczesny, Alex Sandro, Bonucci, Rugani, Joao Cancelo, Pjanic Matuidi (Dybala 75′), Bentancur, Bernardeschi (Khedira 90+3), Mandzukic (Douglas Costa 60′), Ronaldo
Subs unused: De Sciglio, Kean, Perin, Spinazzola
Goal: Ronaldo 45′
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande
That they continue to compete is a triumph for the way they are attempting to narrow the financial gap.
This team will disband in the summer, with Frenkie De Jong off to Barcelona and the imperious 19-year-old captain Matthijs De Ligt also likely to depart.
Erik ten Hag’s Eredivisie leaders are only enjoying this ride together for a few more weeks – but will take great heart by how they responded to adversity.
Cristiano Ronaldo had barely touched the ball before he rolled one out to Joao Cancelo and galloped towards the home box.
Juventus were moving, turning the Ajax midfield around and, seconds before half-time, Cancelo surveyed his surroundings to find Ronaldo having got the run on De Jong.
A perfectly-weighted clip, a trademark Ronaldo flying header and Juventus were somehow ahead at the break.
His numbers are frightening, this the striker’s 125th Champions League goal and his 41st in the quarter-final stage alone.
Ajax were magnificent before and after that. They are chaotic, a blur going forward, and had Juventus penned in for so long.
Donny van de Beek diverted wide when stretching, Hakim Ziyech forced Wojciech Szczesny into a smart scrambled tip.
Earlier, Juve talisman Cristiano Ronaldo had timed a perfect run to arrive in the area and connect with Joao Cancelo’s cross
Ronaldo lunged through the air near the six-yard line to make expert contact with the in-swinging delivery
The Portuguese superstar kept his eyes fixed on the ball while bracing himself for a landing on the turf
Ronaldo span upon impact and was left on his back as the ball beat the goalkeeper and nestled into the bottom corner
The former Real Madrid star rolled over in time to see his effort ripple the back of the next and put Juventus in front
Ronaldo raced off to the corner before leaping into the air in trademark style and performing his iconic celebration
The strike marked the 125th Champions League goal for the 34-year-old superstar who appears to get better with age
Ajax’s Dusan Tadic clashed with Juventus’ Daniele Rugani as the pair fought for the ball with tempers high
Referee Carlos del Cerro Grande had to intervene on multiple occasions to keep things from getting out of hand on the pitch
Ajax crafted plenty of their own opportunities, with Hakim Ziyech going close as they dominated on the possession front
It is that sort of belief and ingenuity that prompted a stunning equaliser just 30 seconds after the break and straight from kick-off.
Juventus’ only touch came as Cancelo miscontrolled and David Neres made him pay, twisting and turning before bending into the top corner.
The least Ajax deserved – and it could have been better but for Szczesny thwarting teenager Jurgen Ekkelenkamp late on. Douglas Costa also thumped a post as Juventus almost unjustly silenced the Johann Cryuff Arena on the break.