Matthijs De Ligt send Juventus packing with emphatic header to take Ajax to semi-finals
Ronaldo has been knocked out of his own competition
Just when you thought there was no romance left in football, just when you thought the bad guys would win forever, a 19-year-old Matthijs De Ligt rose above his vastly more experienced counterparts, and buried a header to send Ajax into the last four of the Champions League since 1997, before De Ligt was born.
Ajax arrived at the imposing Juventus Stadium having drawn the first leg 1-1. That away goal from Cristiano Ronaldo had neutrals fearing that despite their best efforts, this fairytale would probably not have a happy ending. But this Ajax team are different, as they showed in the last round, sticking three goals past Thibaut Courtois at the Santiago Bernabeu.
This Ajax team have scored over 100 goals in the Eredivisie this season. Their captain is 19. They play Dusan Tadić up front. On paper, none of this makes sense, and yet here they are, looking at the prospect of a semi-final against either Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur.
They could have crumbled when Ronaldo put the hosts 1-0 up early on with a trademark header. But a quick response from Donny van de Beek, who bagged his 15th goal of the season in his 50th game of the season, levelled the scoring, mirroring the first leg's result.
Another goal for Ajax and Juventus would have to score two. Even for Cristiano Ronaldo, that proved too much to ask.
Rio Ferdinand was full of praise for De Ligt after the game, labelling the Barcelona target the best young centre-half on the planet.
"He's the best young centre-half on the planet!"
Rio Ferdinand is full of praise for Ajax and their young captain Matthijs de Ligt ✖️✖️✖️
What a team 👏 pic.twitter.com/j32EqfTmYm
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 16, 2019
It's a shame that this Ajax team won't remain intact much longer, much like the Monaco side that reached the semis two years ago, with Frenkie De Jong already on his way to Barcelona and De Ligt likely to follow, but let's enjoy them while we can, eh?