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Ajax stun Juve to clinch semi-final spot

Ajax Amsterdam progressed to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League after beating Juventus 2-1 in the quarter-final second-leg on Tuesday night at Allianz Stadium.

Bianconeri named a fresh team after a heavily rotated side lost only their second game in Serie A over the weekend, with Emre Can returning from injury and Paulo Dybala replacing the injured Mario Mandzukic. But they were without Giorgio Chiellini and Douglas Costa who were both sidelined due to injuries.

Ajax were forced to make an early substitution in the 11th minute as Noussair Mazraoui hobbled off with a pulled hamstring and was replaced by Daley Sinkgraven.

The Old Lady were the most threatening side thereafter and we rewarded with the opener in the 28th minute as Cristiano Ronaldo powered a header into the bottom corner following a brilliant cross from Miralem Pjanic.

Donny van de Beek brought the visitors level 11 minutes before the break with a clos- range strike past Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny after a goal-mouth scramble inside the box, 1-1.

Massimiliano Allegri’s charges created chances going forward in the closing stages of the first stanza but they could not restore their lead before the interval.

The Dutch side were finding their rhythm in the early exchanges of the second stanza with the hosts on the back foot, however, Ronaldo almost restored Juventus’ lead ten minutes into the half with a header at the back post that sailed just wide.

With just over 20 minutes to play, Matthijs de Ligt gave Ajax a shock lead on the night with a powerful header inside the box after a great delivery by Lasse Schone following a corner to make it 3-2 on aggregate.

Moise Kean almost levelled matters for Bianconeri with 15 minutes remaining after meeting a cross from the right wing but his header went wide of the Ajax goal

The Old Lady were finding it difficult to create chances in the closing stages and they were also denied a penalty late on thanks to a Video Assistant Referee review.

In the end, the Dutch giants were able to see out the closing stages as their fairytale campaign continues, and they will now await the winner of the quarter-final between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. AFP

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