2018/19 UEFA Champions League, Quarterfinals
  • David Neres (46')
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (45')
1st Leg
1st Leg

Cristiano Ronaldo scores but Juventus held to Champions League draw at Ajax

Cristiano Ronaldo scored as Juventus drew 1-1 at Ajax in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie on Wednesday.

Scenes outside of the Amsterdam Arena made headlines before the match as local police arrested more than 100 Juventus supporters and sprayed fans of both clubs with water cannons to prevent what they called "unsafe situations."

However, on the pitch, Ronaldo notched his record 125th UCL goal at the stroke of half-time before David Neres equalised on the other side of the interval to give the Dutch side a fighting chance in Turin for the return leg.

Juventus -- finalists in 2015 and 2017 -- got the away goal they'd hoped for and it was the Portugal international again leading the way.

From a quick break down the right, the former Real Madrid star made a supporting run in behind Federico Bernardeschi, who cleared the space for an uncontested Ronaldo to latch onto Joao Cancelo's cross with a powerful diving header.

The goal marked Ronaldo's 24th in Champions League quarterfinal matches, which is 14 more than the next best (Lionel Messi and Raul). It was also his 41st scored from the quarterfinal round onwards -- 25 more than his next-closest competitor (Messi).

Juve's advantage would not last long, however, and Ajax struck back just one minute after the break through Neres -- the recently capped Brazil international leaving Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny no chance with his curled shot from the edge of the box after cutting in from the left.

Ajax then dominated possession but were guilty of over-elaborate passing and were also fortunate not to have given away a penalty when defender Nicolas Tagliafico was tugging on the jersey of Juventus captain Mario Mandzukic.

Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande paused briefly in the 53rd minute to presumably hear from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) but resumed play before TV replays showed that Juventus had been denied a decent claim.

However, influential left-back Tagliafico will miss the second leg next Tuesday after being booked late in the first half.

Juve hit the upright in the closing stages through substitute Douglas Costa although Ajax could have had the last say as Dusan Tadic missed a good chance in stoppage time.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri praised Ajax's quality after the match but was generally pleased with his side's defensive performance on the night.

"Ajax are a team who, by reaching the quarterfinals, have got to have quality. They are good in possession, in tight spaces, and I think we did well defensively," he told Sky Sport Italia. "We needed to do better in some moments when we regained the ball. We didn't stretch the game as much as we should have done, particularly in terms of speed.

"We weren't distracted. It's normal they gained belief after scoring early on [in the second half], while we suffered a bit from the shock. We started well because Bernardeschi and Matuidi got the ball moving a few times, but they defended well. Ronaldo showed tonight that he's in another category."

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag was satisfied with the draw after the match.

A 1-1 draw in a home game is not exactly what we were hoping for, but it is still a good result," said Ajax coach Erik ten Hag. "The last time we lost 2-1 at home to Real Madrid, so everything is still alive for us."

Ajax eliminated holders Real Madrid in the last 16 with a 4-1 away triumph in the second leg, after being beaten at home, and the Dutch club will be seeking another upset in Turin next Tuesday.

"We have a team with much potential and we are showing that in the Champions League. It's not for nothing we have made it to the quarterfinals," added captain Matthijs de Ligt.

"In the return we'll have to give everything because Juventus are incredibly difficult."

Information from Reuters was used in this report.