HT: Ronaldo breaks Ajax again





Cristiano Ronaldo’s diving header on a Joao Cancelo cross has given Juventus the half-time lead away to Ajax in the Champions League quarter-final.

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The Bianconeri missed Giorgio Chiellini and Emre Can, while Andrea Barzagli wasn’t even on the bench, so Daniele Rugani had to step in. Cristiano Ronaldo made his comeback from three weeks out with a thigh injury sustained playing for Portugal. Ajax knocked holders Real Madrid out in the last round and held Bayern Munich to two draws in the group stage. Frenkie de Jong passed a fitness test, but Hassane Bande was out and Noussair Mazraoui suspended.

Federico Bernardeschi seemed to be in more of a trequartista role than originally predicted and within a few minutes he’d blasted just over the bar.

However, Ajax started their traditional high press and swarmed into the penalty area, Hakim Ziyech’s curler forcing Wojciech Szczesny to acrobatically fingertip out from under the bar.

Donny van de Beek almost completed a trademark team move, his left-foot strike from 13 yards skimming the far post.

Juve went on a rapid counter-attack with Rodrigo Bentancur, but De Jong made a last-ditch tackle on Bernardeschi. On the resulting corner, Ronaldo volleyed wide.

Ronaldo knocked down a cross for Bernardeschi, who on the turn fired inches past the post from seven yards. Nicolas Tagliafico was booked for a lunge on Joao Cancelo and will be suspended for the second leg.

With the last kick of the first half, Juventus took the lead. Ronaldo completed a long give and go with Cancelo, got away from defenders, bending back goalkeeper Andre Onana’s hand with a diving header from eight yards. It was his eighth career goal past Ajax, having already scored a hat-trick in this stadium for Real Madrid.

Ajax 0-1 Juventus (Half-Time)

Ronaldo 45 (J)

Ajax: Onana; Veltman, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico; Van de Beek, De Jong, Schöne; Ziyech, Tadic, Neres

Juventus: Szczesny; Cancelo, Bonucci, Rugani, Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic, Matuidi; Bernardeschi, Mandzukic, Cristiano Ronaldo

Ref: Del Cerro Grande (ESP)

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