Ronaldo returns with a goal as Juventus draws Ajax in 1st leg – CBC.ca

Ronaldo returns with a goal as Juventus draws Ajax in 1st leg - CBC.ca
Ronaldo scores as Juventus draws Ajax in quarterfinals
Ajax wasn't rattled by a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo at the stroke of halftime, equalizing immediately after the break to secure a 1-1 draw against Juventus in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Showing increasing confidence after eliminating three-time defending champion Real Madrid in the last 16, Ajax produced more chances early on but then let Ronaldo waltz through its defence to head in a cross in the 45th minute.

In the opening minute of the second half, David Neres capitalized on an error from Juventus winger Jose Cancelo — who provided the cross for Ronaldo's goal — and curled a shot into the far top corner.

It was Ronaldo who propelled Juve to this stage of the competition, with his hat-trick against Atletico erasing a 2-0 first leg deficit against his long-time rivals.

The second leg is scheduled for next Tuesday in Turin, with the winner to face Manchester City or Tottenham in the semifinals.

Ronaldo has made scored 19 goals in 26 league matches for the Serie A leaders while also adding four goals in seven Champions League appearances for the club.

Police in Amsterdam said they fired a water cannon at football fans "to put out flares and prevent unsafe situations."

In between the two legs of their Champions League quarter-final battle, Juventus will face SPAL in Serie A play with a chance to wrap up the league title.

Local broadcaster AT5 showed images of scores of chanting fans being hosed by the water cannon and responding by tossing fireworks and flares at police before mounted officers charged at them followed by riot police.

Head coach Massimiliano Allegri has confirmed the 34-year-old has recovered sufficiently from a thigh injury sustained while on Portugal duty last month.

Earlier, police in the Dutch capital said they had detained dozens of Italians suspected of possessing flares, a knife, pepper spray and fireworks.

As a result, hes missed out on wins over Genoa, Empoli, Cagliari and AC Milan as Juventus have moved within a step of claiming the Serie A crown.

Luke Shaw unwittingly helped Luis Suarez's header into the net to give Barcelona a 1-0 win over Manchester United on Wednesday in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Ronaldo has not played for the Serie A leaders since scoring a hat-trick in the 3-0 last-16 second-leg win over Atletico Madrid on March 12.

The goal — initially flagged for offside before being awarded via a video review — came in the 12th minute during an exhilarating spell when Barcelona's possession exceeded 80 percent at Old Trafford.

Allegri also confirmed that either Sami Khedira or Rodrigo Bentancur will start in midfield, with Emre Can ruled out with an ankle sprain.

So while the Spanish champions ended a six-game winless run on the road in European knockout games stretching back to 2016, this quarterfinal is very much still in play heading into the second leg on Tuesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo is fit enough to start for Juventus in Wednesdays Champions League quarter-final first leg against Ajax.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

“Cristiano has trained well with the team. He will start tomorrow night,” Allegri told a news conference on Tuesday.

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo, centre, celebrates with teammates after scoring his sides opening goal during the Champions League quarterfinal first-leg match between Ajax and Juventus at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (Peter Dejong/AP)

AMSTERDAM — After showing no fear against Real Madrid, a young Ajax squad didn’t back down against Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus either.

Ajax replied quickly after Ronaldo scored on the stroke of halftime Wednesday, with David Neres equalizing 30 seconds after the break to secure a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.

“I hope that Cristiano Ronaldo has recovered from his injury and plays. Hes a top player and although the chances of us winning are greater [if Juventus] are without him, I want to play against and beat the best players.”

"I think we’ve done pretty well. We have a team with a lot of potential and that tends to emerge to its fullest in Champions League matches," said Matthijs de Ligt, Ajax’s 19-year-old captain and centre back. "We proved today that Ajax is not in the Champions League quarterfinals because it’s a fluke."

Showing increasing confidence, Ajax produced more chances early on but then let Ronaldo waltz through to head in a cross in the 45th minute.

In the opening minute of the second half, David Neres capitalized on an error from Juventus winger Jose Cancelo — who provided the cross for Ronaldo’s goal — and curled a shot into the far top corner.

The second leg is scheduled for next Tuesday in Turin, with the winner to face Manchester City or Tottenham in the semifinals.

"Everything is open. We need to go to the [Allianz] stadium and try to win it," Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny said. "But as we showed against Atletico [Madrid], we know how to win at home in this competition."

In the previous round, Ronaldo almost single-handedly overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit to Atletico by scoring a hat trick in a 3-0 win.

"Ajax is a very different team to us," Szczesny said. "They play more attacking and aggressive. But we’ll see what happens in the second leg."

Police in Amsterdam said they fired a water cannon at football fans "to put out flares and prevent unsafe situations."

Local broadcaster AT5 showed images of scores of chanting fans being hosed by the water cannon and responding by tossing fireworks and flares at police before mounted officers charged at them followed by riot police.

Earlier, police in the Dutch capital said they had detained dozens of Italians suspected of possessing flares, a knife, pepper spray and fireworks.

Ajax threatened through Hakim Ziyech early on and Szczesny had to produce a leaping one-handed save to deny the Morocco international.

Juventus struggled to get past De Ligt until Ronaldo took matters into his own hands, setting up Cancelo on the right wing then sprinting past several defenders to head in Cancelo’s cross. Goalkeeper Andre Onana could only get a weak hand on the ball.

"Ronaldo’s greatest quality, apart from his talent, is that he is a predator in the box," De Ligt said. "He sees an opportunity, just a tiny gap, and he goes for it incredibly quickly. He sprints into the area between two players."

Ronaldo hadn’t played since injuring his right thigh while on international duty with Portugal last month but he showed no signs of a problem.

It was Ronaldo’s 125th career goal in the Champions League. Only Lionel Messi (108 goals) is within 50 of Ronaldo’s record, with Raul Gonzalez (71) third on the list.

"Once again Ronaldo proved to be on a different level, his movements and his sense of timing are simply different from the others," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

After his goal, a fan jumped over a barrier and ran to embrace Ronaldo and his teammates celebrating near the corner flag. Security quickly took the fan away.

Neres, a 22-year-old Brazilian, levelled 30 seconds into the second half with a shot that Szczesny had no chance on.

Szczesny swatted away a blast from Jurgen Ekkelenkamp before Costa hit the woodwork at the other end with a long, angled shot and Onana palmed away another dangerous effort from Cancelo.

Allegri opted not to bring on Moise Kean, a 19-year-old Italy striker who had scored seven goals in his last eight games for club and country.