SAN FRANCISCO, April 11, (THEWILL) – Cristiano Ronaldo marked his return from injury with a precious away goal as Juventus drew 1-1 with an impressive Ajax in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
He also carved a history of his own as he reached 125 goals in the League.
Ronaldo subdued the 50,000 home fans in the Johan Cruyff Arena when he headed Juventus in front on the stroke of half-time to take his record goal tally in the competition to 125.
Brazilian winger David Neres conjured a stunning equaliser almost immediately after half-time to give Ajax a draw that was the very least they deserved.
However, it is Juventus — for whom substitute Douglas Costa struck a post late on — who hold the upper hand heading into next Tuesday’s return in Turin, with the winners of this tie facing Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur in the last four.
The 34-year-old is aiming to win the trophy for the fourth year running, while Ajax are appearing at this stage of the competition for the first time since 2003.
Meanwhile, Manchester United defender Chris Smalling gave Lionel Messi a bloody nose as both men clashed in an aerial challenge for a ball at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Although United lost by a Luke Shaw own goal, the Messi accident was one of the highlights of the first leg of the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Messi was quickly back on his feet and into the heart of the action, but it was Philippe Coutinho who came closest to extending Barca’s advantage before the break with a thunderous low shot that De Gea did brilliantly to repel with his feet.
Next week, United now have another monumental task on their hands to overturn the result and qualify for the semi-final.
United had produced one of the European Cup’s finest ever comebacks from a 2-0 first-leg defeat at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.
However, on the ground where manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer completed another famous fightback to win the competition as a player in 1999, United must repeat the trick at the Camp Nou in six days’ time.
United enjoyed the better of the opening stages in the second half, but lacked a creative spark to open Barca up with Paul Pogba too often picking the sideways pass rather than looking to thread the eye of a needle towards Rashford and the ineffective Romelu Lukaku.