Ajax take down Juve – De Ligt: “We grow every game”

Ajax take down Juve – De Ligt: “We grow every game”

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First semi-final in 22 years 

Matthijs de Ligt hailed Ajax’s “unbelievable” achievement after the Dutch club ended their 22-year wait for a Champions League semi-final appearance by shocking Juventus.

Central defender De Ligt, the Ajax captain at just 19 years of age, headed the winner in a 2-1 victory in Turin – the Amsterdam club winning 3-2 on aggregate.

Ajax are the first team in Champions League history to make the semi-finals after surviving three qualifying rounds, and will now meet Manchester City or Tottenham in the last four.

“I can’t describe what kind of emotion we have at the moment,” De Ligt told BT Sport 3 after Ajax had added Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus to their list of Champions League victims, having previously eliminated holders Real Madrid.

“It’s unbelievable what we achieved, we are a squad from the Netherlands and we show the world what we can do.

“We showed it in the Bernabeu (against Madrid), we showed it against Bayern Munich (at the group stage) and now we showed it against Juventus.

“But we are never satisfied and the next game is also going to be important, we’ll see what happens.

“There is so much potential in our team and we are all still young. You see us grow every game.”

Ronaldo headed Juventus into a 28th-minute lead with his 126th goal in the competition and his ninth in seven meetings against Ajax.

But Donny Van De Beek levelled six minutes later and De Ligt’s winner midway through the second half rewarded Ajax’s superiority.

“It was a great corner kick,” De Ligt said.

“I jumped and I know I can jump high and head the ball well. That was the perfect moment to score.

“We had so many chances to score at the end, it is 2-1 but it could be 3-1 or 4-1.

“The only thing we lack is that we have to score more, but that is a big compliment to us as a team.”

Ajax will definitely meet English opposition in their first Champions League semi-final since the 1996-97 season and the days of Edwin van der Sar, Jari Litmanen and Marc Overmars.

But asked whether he wanted to play City or Spurs, De Ligt said: “At the moment I don’t have any preference.

“We will see who is coming to the semi-final and then we have to show the same.”

Manager Massimiliano Allegri insisted his future remains in Turin after Juventus failed to make the last four of the Champions League for the second successive season.

“Ajax clearly deserved the victory, especially in the second half,” Allegri said at his post-match press conference.

“They had a bit of luck with their quick equaliser but they played very well after the break.

“I always say that in order to win the Champions League you need to be at peak form when it counts.

“In the last month we have been struggling with several injuries – even tonight we were missing important players – so it was not easy to reach top form.

“I already talked with the president, I will remain at Juve next season and we are already planning the next campaign.”



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