Juventus vs. Ajax score: Ronaldo scores away goal on diving header, but Dutch club responds for draw
The result gives both teams a clear idea of what they need to move on
Juventus went on the road to Ajax on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal and earned a 1-1 draw with Cristiano Ronaldo returning from injury to score a vital away goal. But it was the Dutch team that looked like the better side on the night, keeping Juve on its heels. Ronaldo opened the scoring right before halftime but Ajax quickly responded as the Dutch side built a bit of confidence ahead of the second leg where the team will look to shock Juve. Ajax eliminated Real Madrid in the round of 16 after losing the first leg at home.
⚽ Juventus - Ronaldo (45')
⚽ Ajax - David Neres (46')
The biggest moment came just before halftime, and it followed this lovely opener from Ronaldo's head:
Conceding right before the break is tough, but Ajax didn't come out sluggish in the second half. They pressed, they fought, and they got their goal. Pressure at the back had Juve on its heels and Ajax was ready. Neres picked up the ball and produced a dashing run with a great little touch to set up his shot. Look at this fine goal:
A huge moment for Ajax. Losing 1-0 wouldn't have been a death sentence in the tournament, but a 1-1 result gives them serious confidence and life. The young guys didn't let Ronaldo's goal bring them down -- instead they impressively came out stronger and really were unfortunate not to win this game.
Player of the game
Wojciech Szczesny: Juve's goalkeeper was outstanding. In the first half, he denied Hakim Ziyech's far-post curler with this unbelievable save to tip the ball over the bar:
He had five saves on the night.
Most telling statistic
Ajax had 61 percent possession against a team that loves to have the ball, and they had 19 shots to Juve's seven. That's simply evidence of a pretty dominant display when it comes to creating chances. Though Juve is probably the better team, Ajax was the better in this one despite not getting the victory.
Key coaching decision
Starting Joao Cancelo. The Juventus defender can, at times, look like a world-class talent, and other times he will just baffle you. This is a guy who once told the home fans of his previous team Valencia to hush ... while playing for Valencia. In this one, he assisted Ronaldo's goal. Great run, great pass.
Then he gave up the ball that led to Ajax's goal with his failure to control the ball.
What the result means
It's a good result for Juventus, and it really isn't all that bad for Ajax. It sets them up better than the home loss to Real Madrid in the round of 16. This one is far from over, but Juve is the slight favorite in the second leg. I think this display gives Juve plenty to think about and shows that the Dutch giants are more than capable of going to Turin and stealing this one.
The second leg is next Tuesday in Italy at 3 p.m. ET and will air on fuboTV (Try for free).
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