Ajax through to Champions League semi finals for first time in 22 years
On Tuesday Ajax qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in 22 years. The Amsterdam team eliminated Juventus with a 1-2 victory in Turin. The first quarter-finals match in the Johan Cruijff Arena ended in a 1-1 draw last week, so Ajax has enough to extend this special European season, NU.nl reports.
Cristiano Ronaldo put Juventus in the lead in the first half, just like last week in Amsterdam. Donny van de Beek scored a goal a short time later, bringing the score to 1-1. And halfway through the second half, Matthijs de Ligt secured the victory for Ajax.
The Amsterdam team is delighted, with some players already picturing Ajax winning the Champions League. "Of course I am thinking of winning the Champions League, you have to believe in it. If you don't, it will be difficult", Donny van de Beek said. "We have defeated one of the best teams in Europe. Why should that not be possible again in the next round?"
Captain Matthijs de Ligt also thinks it isn't impossible that Ajax will again be crowned best in Europe. "What can stop us?" he asked. "Maybe only ourselves. So far we have shown something every Champions League match. We have to keep it up until the end."
Ajax coach Erik ten Hag is also beside himself. After a victory over Benfica, two draws against Bayern Munich and the elimination of Real Madrid, his team proved to also be more than up to Juventus, the top Italian club. "It is amazing that we can handle all kinds of different playing styles", he said to Veronica. "This match, for example, was incomparable with the away match against Real Madrid. This was certainly a fighting match, certainly in the beginning." He added: "This is fantastic for Ajax and the entire Dutch football. We are back on the map."
In the semi-finals Ajax will play against either Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur. The two English clubs are playing the return in the quarterfinals against each other on Wednesday. Last week the Spurs won 1-0.
This is the ninth time in total and the first time since 1997 that Ajax makes it through the semi-finals of the European Cup I/Champions League. Ajax won the European club tournament in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1995.