Ajax dump Juventus and Ronaldo out of Champions League as Dutch giantkillers do it again
Fresh from their dethroning of holders Real Madrid in the last round, the young Dutch masters did it again, this time in Turin where they recovered from a Cristiano Ronaldo opener to claim victory thanks to goals from Donny van de Beek and 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt.
It is the first time that the Dutch club - four-time winners of the competition - have reached the final four since the 1996/97 season, but Erik ten Hag’s young team will fear no one after seeing off yet another of the favorites for the title.
For Juventus, the home crowd at Allianz Stadium were forced to suck up yet more Champions League heartache as their 23-year wait for Europe’s top club title continues.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the man they signed to end that drought, got things off to the perfect start for them when he opened the scoring with a header from a corner on 28 minutes.
But while Juve had controlled the early stages, Ajax were not to be cowed, and found themselves level just six minutes later when Hakim Ziyech’s miscued drive from the edge of the box found teammate Donny van de Beek, who killed the ball dead before sidefooting into the Juve net to level the tie.
The teams – and the tie – headed in level at the break, but Ajax started much the brighter in the second half, with Wojciech Szczesny making saves from both Ziyech and van de Beek.
The warning signs were there for Juve, and it became a full-on red alert when Ajax’s teenage captain de Ligt – who embodies so much of Ajax’s youthful endeavor and grit – powered home a header.
It was no more than Ajax deserved as they yet again produced a magnificent performance which has now earned them a semi-final tie against either Manchester City or Tottenham.
After seeing off successive giants in Real Madrid and now Juventus, Ajax will fear no one.
For Juventus and Ronaldo - who had remarkably emerged on the winning team in all of his 11 previous Champions League quarter-final ties - it was back to the drawing board.