Cristiano Ronaldo played his part to send Juventus to the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, but his efforts were just not enough as Ajax triumphed in Turin 2-1 and won 3-2 aggregate.
Ronaldo had opened scoring for Juventus in the 28 minute with a header inside the box, but six minutes after, Donny van de Beek, in a move disputed as an offside, scored for the visitors to level the game.
Then in the 67th minute, Matthijs de Ligt headed home the winner after a corner kick taken by Lasse Schoene. The goal made Juventus hopes to qualify more daunting as they needed two goals to level up and win.
Cristiano Ronaldo was bidding for his sixth Champions League title, but it was not to be as
the young Dutch side eliminated his team, the way they eliminated three-time defending champions Real Madrid en route to the quarters with a memorable 4-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“It’s an incredible evening for Ajax and its players and also for Dutch football,” said coach Erik ten Hag.
“Once again we eliminated the favourites.
“We said before we were not the favourites but with our philosophy we can go further, we’ve again surpassed our limits.”
Juventus had been looking to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the third time in the past five seasons.
But Ronaldo, who scored an away goal last week with a diving header in Amsterdam, was Juve’s only weapon against the impressive Dutch side.
The 34-year-old was signed for 100 million euros ($117 million) last summer from Real Madrid in a bid to win the European trophy for the first time since 1996, when they beat Ajax in the final.
“Ajax deserved to qualify,” said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“We could have done better, but Ajax aren’t coming out of nowhere, they were Europa League finalists two years ago and scored five goals against Real.
“It’s not our worst elimination. We had big expectations, but the Champions League is a strange competition. You have to arrive in peak condition.
“In the last month we have been struggling with several injuries. Even tonight we were missing important players.”