Ajax eliminate Juventus from Champions League, Barca advance
TURIN – Ajax Amsterdam followed up their elimination of Real Madrid by producing a spell-binding display of inventive, passing football to win 2-1 away to Juventus on Tuesday and end the Serie A team’s dreams of winning the Champions League.
Ajax’s 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt headed the winner from the corner in the 67th minute of the quarter-final second leg as the Dutch side came from behind to clinch a 3-2 aggregate win and reach the last four for the first time since 1996/97.
Cristiano Ronaldo, aiming for a fourth successive Champions League title after winning the last three with Real Madrid, put Juventus ahead in the 28th minute with a typically emphatic header, his sixth goal of the competition.
But Donny van de Beek levelled six minutes later before the visitors swept Juventus aside in the second half with wave after wave of attacks as they earned a semi-final against Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi produced another masterful Champions League performance to knock out Manchester United and fire Barcelona into the semi-finals for the first time in four years, scoring twice in a 3-0 home win.
Barca, who toyed with United for the majority of the encounter, sealed a 4-0 aggregate victory and will meet either Porto or Liverpool in the last four.
Messi had failed to score in his last 12 quarter-final appearances, but he settled his side’s nerves after a bright start from United, collecting a misplaced pass from Ashley Young and curling into the bottom corner in the 16th minute.
The Argentine then pounced on another lapse from United’s defence four minutes later to win back possession high up the pitch and fire a shot from outside the box, which squirmed under visiting keeper David de Gea.
Philippe Coutinho finished off a therapeutic win for the Catalans, after three quarter-final failures in a row, by curling into the top corner in the second half. (Reuters)