Matthijs De Ligt highlighted Cristiano Ronaldo’s predatory instincts after Ajax drew 1-1 with Juventus in the Champions League.
De Ligt’s Ajax had to settle for a draw in the first leg of the quarter-final tie despite dominating in Amsterdam, where Ronaldo’s opener was cancelled out by David Neres on Wednesday.
Playing for the first time since suffering a muscle injury on international duty last month, Ronaldo broke the deadlock via a diving header on the stroke of half-time.
Neres equalised within seconds of the restart after half-time and Ajax – who stunned three-time reigning champions Real Madrid in the last 16 – were unfortunate not to add to their tally midweek.
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) April 10, 2019
Reflecting on the result post-match, Ajax captain De Ligt told reporters: “It was a fiery atmosphere from the start and we had a few early chances, but unfortunately conceded just before half-time.
“Ronaldo’s greatest quality, apart from his talent, is that he is a predator in the box. He sees an opportunity, just a tiny gap, and he goes for it incredibly quickly. He sprints into the area between two players.
“We know that you can’t leave gaps at the back for Juventus, as that’s what they prepare for. We passed it around and tried to find holes in their defence.
“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.
“We work so hard for each other. We proved today that Ajax are not in the Champions League quarter-finals because they are a fluke.
“Of course, Juventus are strong at home, everyone knows that, so it’ll be difficult in the second leg.”
117 – Frenkie de Jong (21 years, 333 days) is the youngest player with at least 117 touches in a Champions League game from the quarter-finals onwards since Sergio Busquets in 2010 v Inter. DNA. pic.twitter.com/GhSjCzwkUI
— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) April 10, 2019
Barcelona-bound star Frenkie de Jong produced another impressive performance for Ajax and the 21-year-old midfielder believes the Dutch giants can progress to the semi-finals.
“We’re disappointed about conceding a goal right before half-time, but in the second half we began very strongly with our equaliser. In the end 1-1 is not so bad,” De Jong told UEFA.com. “I think we have enough of a chance in the away game.
“It’s a pity that Nico [Tagliafico] is suspended [for the return match], but we have very good players on the bench who can do it over there. If we play the way we did in Madrid, with a lot of courage, then we have a big chance of winning. We’ve done well so far in the Champions League, and we’re not done yet.”
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