Football Features

Juventus 1-2 Ajax: Every player rated as De Ligt sends Ronaldo crashing out of Europe

By Ben Green

Published: 22:12, 16 April 2019

Ajax have booked their ticket in the Champions League semi-final after defying the odds with a 2-1 win over Juventus in Turin.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened proceedings by drifting into space to score a 28th-minute header, his 65th goal in Champions League knockout rounds.

But the Old Lady’s lead lasted just six minutes as Donny van de Beek broke the offside trap before calmly slotting into the Juve goal.

And it would be Ajax who sealed the victory after Matthijs de Ligt stepped up in the second half with a thunderous header of his own, sending the travelling Amsterdammers into raptures.

So after an historic night in Turin, how did every player rate?

Juventus

Wojciech Szczesny – 7 – Kept his side in the match for large spells with a number of crucial diving saves. The Poland international could do little for either goal.

Mattia De Sciglio – 5 – Slow to react for Ajax’s opening goal after sauntering forward, and there was little improvement from there on in – bar one or two solid defensive challenges on Neres – before Allegri hooked him for Cancelo midway through the second half.

Daniele Rugani – 5 – Came in for the experienced Chiellini and certainly didn’t look out of place on the big stage, though he ultimately lacked the requisite authority of his experienced counterpart, and perhaps should have been more aggressive for De Ligt’s headed goal.

Leonardo Bonucci – 6 – The better of Juve’s centre-backs; by and large, the seasoned Italian defender had a relatively solid game, though could have been a little more alert for Van de Beek’s goal.

Alex Sandro – 7 – Juve’s best defender, the buccaneering Brazilian never shied away from robustly charging forward, while he made more successful tackles than any player on the pitch (7).

Emre Can – 5 – Put his body on the line and tried to make things happen with a marauding run in the first half, but that died out in the second half as Ajax took control of the midfield. The German international struggled to stamp his mark during the 90 minutes and started to show signs of exhaustion towards the end.

Miralem Pjanic – 7 – Pulled the creative strings for Juve, orbiting the centre circle while spraying passes along his way. Whipped in a scintillating cross to set up Ronaldo for the opening goal, and made a goal-saving clearance in the second half to deny a certain Ajax goal.

Blaise Matuidi – 6 – Buzzed around the pitch in his usual manner; the skilful midfielder played with his heart on his sleeve but wilted as Ajax started to ramp up the pressure after the restart.

Federico Bernarderschi – 5 – The quieter forward in the Old Lady’s attacking trident, Bernarderschi made the fewest passes in the first half and struggled to unlock the Amsterdammers’ defence. His second-half performance wasn’t much better.

Paulo Dybala – 6 – Tried to influence proceedings in the first half and showcased a few glimmers of his undoubted talent, but failed to truly grab the game by the scruff of the neck and was subsequently taken off at half-time.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7 – It was a case ofCometh the hour, cometh the man’ in the first half; with the match delicately poised in the opening exchanges, the European goalscoring merchant duly stepped up and netted his 126th Champions League goal with a bullet header. His performance waned in the second half as Juve went crashing out.

Substitutes:

Moise Kean (for Dybala 45) – 6 – Tried to leave a lasting impression on the match, but Juve really struggled to provide him with enough service.

Joao Cancelo (for De Sciglio 64) – 6 – Unfortunate to not be starting, the Portuguese came on and tried to influence down the flank, but ultimately had little success.

Rodrigo Bentancur (for Bernarderschi 80) – 5 – Came on with only 10 minutes left and had little impact.

Ajax

Andre Onana – 6 – A few jittery moments in the opening exchanges, but commanded his box competently and always made himself available when his defence were under pressure.

Joel Veltman – 7 – Held his own at right-back. The Ajax stalwart was strong in the tackle and able-bodied when surging forward; an efficient outlet for the Dutch club.

Matthijs de Ligt – 8 – It’s incredible to believe the Dutch defender is still only a teenager, so seasoned was the performance produced by the Ajax skipper on the night as he stood up to the challenge of Ronaldo, Dybala and then later Kean with significant maturity and grit, not to mention his excellent headed goal.

Daley Blind – 8 – Alongside De Ligt, Blind was a pillar of consistency for Ajax against Juventus. Every move started with their propensity to play out from the back, while Blind, in particular, seemed to cover every blade of grass across the backline.

Noussair Mazraoui – N/A – An unfortunate end to the young Morocco international’s night as he limped off injured in the 11th minute.

Lasse Schone – 7 – Ran around the pitch like an absolute madman, the Dane played with a frantic pace, hustling and harrying in the middle of the park, giving the Juve players little room to breathe as he executed his well-calibrated press.

Frenkie De Jong – 8 – The metronome for Ajax, De Jong was coolness personified whenever his teammates were under pressure. He pulled the strings from midfield exceptionally well and never looked in danger with the ball at his feet.

Hakim Ziyech – 7 – Caused the Juventus backline myriad problems; Ziyech was a constant threat down the byline, blossoming after the restart, though his end product was not as refined as it typically is.

Donny van de Beek – 8 – A name that largely goes under the radar because of the young teammate that accompanies him in midfield, but tonight the nimble Dutchman stood out, making a number of neat and tidy passes, covering significant ground, and also taking his goal exceptionally well.

David Neres – 7 – Another like Ziyech who caused a catalogue of problems for the Juve defence, but the game could have been out of sight had the Brazilian made better choices in the final third. That said, the incisive winger gave Sandro significant food for thought.

Dusan Tadic – 7 – The Serbian false No. 9 made Bonucci and Rugani sweat with his skilful touches and runs in behind. Coming up against Italian defenders is never an easy task, but Tadic stood up to the challenge capably.

Substitutes:

Daley Sinkgraven (for Mazraoui 11) – 7 –  This was a massive opportunity the defender to prove his worth and he seized the chance with both hands as he never looked out of pace with the big hitters.

Lisandro Magallan (f0r Sinkgraven 82) – 5 – Came on with eight minutes left to see the match out.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (for Ziyech 88) – N/A – Another who came on with just minutes left.