Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ronaldo gives Juventus edge

Ronaldo gives Juventus edge

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Jurgen Ekkelenkamp jump for the ball during the Uefa Champions League quarter-final first leg between Ajax Amsterdam and Juventus FC at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam on Wednesday. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP

Ronaldo gives Juventus edge

CRISTIANO Ronaldo was again hailed by Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri after scoring with his side’s only shot on target to earn a 1-1 draw away to an excellent Ajax in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

On his return from a thigh injury, Ronaldo subdued the 50,000 home fans in the Johan Cruyff Arena when he headed Juventus in front on the stroke of half-time to take his record goal tally in the competition to 125.

However, Brazilian winger David Neres conjured a stunning equaliser almost immediately after half-time to give Ajax a draw that was the very least they deserved.

Despite that, it is Juventus – for whom substitute Douglas Costa struck a post late on – who hold the upper hand heading into next Tuesday’s return in Turin, with the winners of this tie facing Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur in the last four.

“Ronaldo showed that he is on a different level. His timing and movement are different to everyone else’s, there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Allegri.

Ronaldo had not played for his club since scoring a hat-trick to dump out Atletico Madrid in the last 16, and his goal here saved the visitors in the face of another fine Ajax performance.

“Ajax have great quality. We suffered after their goal but we defended well and finished the game better,” added Allegri.

Ronaldo won the trophy in the last three seasons with Real Madrid, but a fearless Ajax ended the Spanish side’s European hegemony in the previous round after a thrilling 4-1 victory in Spain.

This result allows them to maintain hope ahead of the return, even if they might feel they should have won here.

“He’s a world class player but I think we did well tonight,” captain Matthijs de Ligt said of Ronaldo.

The Ajax coach, Erik ten Hag, added: “It is not the result you hope for, but it is a result. Last time we lost 2-1 to Madrid at home so we are still in it.”

Ten Hag’s brilliant young side is likely to be broken up at the end of this campaign, so this may be the Amsterdam club’s best chance in a long time to win a fifth European Cup.

De Jong runs the show

Frenkie de Jong is leaving for Barcelona, and the 21-year-old’s eagerness to get on the ball and start moves here underlined why the Catalans were prepared to pay an initial €75 million ($84.5 million) in January to secure his signature.

However, it was the Moroccan international, Hakim Ziyech, who was the most prominent going forward in the first half – one curling effort in the 18th minute was heading for the top corner before being tipped over by Wojciech Szczesny.

Donny van de Beek then put a great chance agonisingly wide after being teed up by Dusan Tadic, while Juventus only displayed their attacking threat in patches.

Ronaldo was largely quiet, but he was afforded too much time and space by the Ajax defence as he opened the scoring right on half-time.

He collected a Rodrigo Bentancur pass, spread the play to Joao Cancelo and then ran unhindered in a straight line into the box to head home his compatriot’s cross.

It was his 25th goal of the season – he has now scored six Champions League goals at the Johan Cruyff Arena, as many as ex-Ajax star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Ajax fans greeted their team’s return for the second half with a rendition of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, and they were still belting out the words to their adopted hymn when they equalised within a minute of the restart.

Neres robbed Cancelo by the left touchline just inside the Juventus half and advanced before curling a shot beyond Szczesny and into the far corner.

Exerted home pressure followed, although Costa nearly delivered a late sucker punch as he hit the woodwork at the other end.

Ajax are still right in the tie, but left-back Nicolas Tagliafico will be suspended for the return after being booked here.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group