16 April 2019
Juventus bowed out of the Champions League after falling 2-1 at home to an inspired Ajax side in the quarter-finals of the tournament. Ronaldo’s first half strike was not enough to see the Bianconeri qualify for the semi-finals, after goals from van de Beek and de Ligt sealed a victory for the Dutch.
The two teams came into the second leg having played to a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Johan Cruijff ArenA. Massimiliano Allegri had to make do without the services, once again, of Giorgio Chiellini, along with Douglas Costa and Mario Mandzukic, who both featured in the draw in Amsterdam.
It was a fiery start to the game, with both teams looking to win possession at all costs and attack with pace, so much so, it resulted in a few physical challenges being made. Erik ten Hag’s side, however, were dealt a bitter blow when they had to lose Mazraoui in the 11th minute of the game after picking up an injury. Juventus were doing all the attacking in the opening stages of the game. A fortunate ball fell to Bernardeschi in the 17th minute and he tried to get it past two defenders to direct it towards Ronaldo, who was inside the box, but he slipped, and the ball was lost.
RONALDO SCORES, AJAX RESPOND
Ajax’s best effort came in the 20th minute, when van de Beek, who just had to cross the ball over the line, prodded it straight over the woodwork. It was Juventus who were doing the majority of the attacking, and they took the lead just before the half hour mark, when Ronaldo nodded the ball into the back of the net with a simply unstoppable hit. The referee did consult VAR, and he stood in favour of the goal. Ajax found the equaliser six minutes later when van de Beek latched onto the end of a through-ball to slot it past Szczesny in goal.
Allegri opted for an immediate change after the break, by bringing on Moise Kean in place of Paulo Dybala. Szczesny pulled off a miraculous save in the 53rd minute when stuck out his one hand to palm away a Ziyech effort that looked destined to go into the back of the net. The Polish goalkeeper then pulled off another great save when he pushed van de Beek’s curling effort over the crossbar minutes later. A good effort fell to Kean on the hour mark when Ronaldo turned and sprinted forward, he then fed the ball to Moise Kean, who fired wide of goal. Three minutes later, Pjanic made an incredible clearance off a Radic shot, while Allegri then introduced Cancelo in place of De Sciglio.
DE LIGT STRIKES
After those two miraculous saves, Szczesny couldn’t keep out De Ligt, who headed home a crucial second away goal off a corner kick, beating two defenders in his path. The engines were turned on for Ajax and they started pushing Juventus to their limits. Ziyech had the ball in the back of the net off a curling effort, but after a silent check with VAR, it was ruled out for offside. Allegri then opted to use his third and final change to bring on Bentancur in place of Bernardeschi, however it didn’t change much for the Old Lady, as their journey in the Champions League came to an end.
Juventus XI: Szczesny; De Sciglio (Cancelo 63’), Bonucci, Rugani, Alex Sandro; Can, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bernardeschi (Bentancur 79’), Dybala (Kean 46’), Ronaldo
Juventus bench: Pinsoglio, Barzagli, Cancelo, Khedira, Bentancur, Spinazzola, Kean
Ajax XI: Onana; Veltman, Blind, De Ligt, Mazraoui (Sinkgraven 11’ Magallan 80’); De Jong, Van de Beek, Schöne; Neres, Tadic, Ziyech (Huntelaar 88’)
Ajax bench: Varela, Sinkgraven, Huntelaar, Mahallan, Dolberg, De Wit, Ekkelenkamp