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Ronaldo, Juve get away goal, draw Ajax (video)

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  • Ronaldo puts Juve ahead (video)
  • Neres levels just after halftime
  • Ajax out-attempts Juve 18-7

Cristiano Ronaldo and David Neres traded goals as Juventus was fortunate to escape the Amsterdam Arena with a 1-1 draw against Ajax in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

The second leg is Tuesday in Turin.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The shots and chances were even in the first half, Ajax putting the first two on target including a fine curler from Dusan Tadic that was pushed over the bar by Wojciech Szczesny.

Juve’s Federico Bernardeschi hit wide following a Cristiano Ronaldo knockdown in the 37th.

Ronaldo, instead, did the darn thing himself just before halftime, leaping forward to nod a long Joao Cancelo cross past Andre Onana.

Ajax tied the score just after halftime, and we mean just, as Neres spun this 46th minute ball past Szczesny.

Predictions for Champions League, Europa quarterfinals

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Things are getting very serious in the latter stages of European competition.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

This week the first legs of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League quarterfinals take place, with six Premier League teams in action.

Tottenham host Man City, Man United host Barcelona and Liverpool travel to Porto in the UCL. In the Europa League, Arsenal host Napoli and Chelsea travel to Slavia Prague.

 [ LIVE: Europa League scores

Below is a look at each quarterfinal tie and a prediction on how they will end up.


UEFA Champions League quarterfinal predictions

Ajax v. Juventus
First leg: Apr. 10, Johan Cruyff ArenA, Amsterdam
Second leg: Apr. 16, Allianz Stadium, Turin
Prediction: With Ronaldo struggling to be fit for the first leg, Ajax will have to make the most of being at home. Dusan Tadic will cause Juve problems, but the second leg being in Turin and Ronaldo back fit will be just enough for the Italian giants. 3-2 to Juventus on aggregate.

Liverpool v. FC Porto
First leg: Apr. 9, Anfield, Liverpool
Second leg: Apr. 17, Estadio Dragao, Porto
Prediction: This tie could be wrapped up after the first leg. Liverpool thumped Porto 5-0 away from home in the last 16 last season, and although Porto have improved, expect a comfortable Liverpool win. 4-1 to Liverpool on aggregate.

Manchester United v. Barcelona
First leg: Apr. 10, Old Trafford, Manchester
Second leg: Apr. 16, Nou Camp, Barcelona
Prediction: A tough task for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but you feel like United could keep things tight in the first leg. Having to switch the ties around due to Man City’s involvement in the last eight hurt them, with a second leg at Old Trafford more favorable for United. Like Chelsea did against Barcelona in the past, if they can defend and hit them on the counter, and hope that Lionel Messi has an off day, they have a chance. This will be closer than most people think. 3-2 to Barcelona on aggregate.

Tottenham v. Manchester City
First leg: Apr. 9, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
Second leg: Apr. 17, Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Prediction: The first leg at Spurs’ new stadium will be tough for Man City to handle, especially after a tense FA Cup semifinal win, and it will be tight. The second leg at the Etihad will decide this, and you have to fancy Man City will advance. 4-3 to Man City on aggregate.


Arsenal v. Napoli
First leg: Apr. 11, Emirates Stadium
Second leg: Apr. 18, Stadio San Paolo
Prediction: The Gunners did not want to draw Napoli, with Carlo Ancelotti’s men the favorites to win this tournament alongside Chelsea. Arsenal will need at least a one-goal lead to take to Italy with them. Too much to ask for, and it won’t be easy in the semifinals with either Valencia or Villarreal awaiting the winners. 4-2 to Napoli on aggregate.

Benfica v. Eintracht Frankfurt
First leg: Apr. 11, Estadio da Luz
Second leg: Apr. 18, Commerzbank-Arena
Prediction: An intriguing clash between two teams littered with talented youngsters. Frankfurt have been the darlings of this tournament and look set to qualify for the Champions League next season with a top four Bundesliga finish. Their fairytale will continue. 3-1 to Frankfurt on aggregate.

Slavia Prague v. Chelsea
First leg: Apr. 11, Eden Arena
Second leg: Apr. 18, Stamford Bridge
Prediction: Chelsea will fancy their chances of finishing this tie in the first leg in the Czech Republic. Sarri’s side have used the Europa League as a release from their poor PL form this season, and the likes of Giroud and Hudson-Odoi should put on a show. Having the second leg at home is perfect, and Chelsea now either Benfica or Frankfurt await in the semis. 5-2 to Chelsea on aggregate.

Villarreal v. Valencia
First leg: Apr. 11, Estadio de la Ceramica
Second leg: Apr. 18, Mestalla
Prediction: An all-Spanish quarterfinal will be an intriguing tactical encounter, and Valencia are the favorites due to their current position in the top six of La Liga and Villarreal struggling towards the bottom. With the second leg at the Mestalla, Valencia will prevail. 3-1 to Valencia on aggregate.

Ronaldo asks for sub following leg injury for Portugal

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Juventus supporters will be hoping their hero is keeping it safe rather than sorry.

Cristiano Ronaldo has left Portugal’s EURO 2020 qualifier with Serbia after sustaining an injury in the first half at the Estadio da Luz on Monday.

[ MORE: Liverpool ready to sell Keita? ]

The 34-year-old pulled up mid-run and asked to be taken out of the game around the half-hour mark, with Portugal trailing Serbia 1-0 on a Dusan Tadic penalty.

Ronaldo went 90 minutes against Ukraine last week in his first Portugal appearance since Uruguay eliminated the EURO 2016 champs from the 2018 World Cup.

Juve has a 15-point lead on Napoli with 10 matches to play in the Serie A season, and won’t begin its next UEFA Champions League round until April 10 at Ajax.

Pain, devastation, expletives: Real Madrid deals with Champions League failure

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Real Madrid didn’t expect this, which is probably why they will not become the four-time defending champions of the UEFA Champions League.

Real led 2-1 after the first leg in Holland, the two away goals enough that captain Sergio Ramos purposely took a yellow card to serve his suspension in the second leg instead of risking an absence later in the tournament.

[ MORE: Match recap | Ajax reacts ]

Instead, Dusan Tadic and Ajax tore Real apart at the Bernabeu, using a 4-1 second leg win to send the Madrid side out of the competition.

Real is not sure how to react to such a loss. Dani Carvajal said it’s all about of an “(expletive (rhymes with Gritty) season.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever had this feeling of pain,” Carvajal said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s never easy to bounce back from two defeats against Barcelona and two errors put us 2-0 down, however 3-0 killed us.”

The vicious Real Madrid media will come the players and staff with knives out, and the men under the microscope are clearly preparing for it with some opening salvos in the opposite direction.

Here’s Nacho, via the BBC:

“We’re devastated. It’s very complicated. We’re not used to being at this stage of a season with practically no title left to play for. … La Liga’s practically impossible, we’re out of the Copa and the Champions League. It’s tough.”

As for interim boss Santiago Solari, who was credited with a new manager bump — and deservedly so — when he took over for Julen Lopetegui, he’s looking for answers as well.

Solari even admitted that Real missed Ramos, though he’s keeping perspective. After all, Ramos was there for all 180 minutes when Barcelona beat Real twice in four days.

And maybe, just maybe, Solari being a part of Real’s legacy of winning makes him the man to do the job moving forward (though we doubt Florentino Perez is going to have the patience for that with Jose Mourinho on the market).

“The season is difficult, but we are here to show our heart and character in difficult moments,” added Solari. “Easy moments are easy for everyone, you can climb up and surf them, but difficult moments you have to show bravery. … Madrid is bigger than any of us. It always returns, and returns even stronger.”

‘Pretty close to perfection:’ Ajax’s Tadic, Ten Haag react

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Dusan Tadic is flying, both on the pitch and in spirit.

The Ajax star and former Southampton winger played the game of his life on Tuesday, setting up his side’s first two goals and scoring a third in a 4-1 defeat of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Yeah, you read that correctly, and the win wasn’t some dead rubber; Ajax knocked the three-time defending UEFA Champions League winners from the competition by a 5-3 aggregate score line.

[ MORE: BVB-Spurs recap ]

Ajax boss Erik ten Haag called it, “pretty close to perfection,” and Tadic is not humbly treating it like just another fine performance in a 26-goal, 15-assist season.

“This is probably the best game of football I’ve ever played. We beat the best club in the world. I’m very proud and I think we made a lot of people happy. In football you just have to relax and enjoy your game.”

It will be Ajax’s first UCL quarterfinal since 2003, when it was bounced by AC Milan.