Home SPORTSFOOTBALL Champions League:Ajax 0-1 Benfica (agg: 2-3): Darwin Shines ,Benfica Reaches Quarter-finals

Champions League:Ajax 0-1 Benfica (agg: 2-3): Darwin Shines ,Benfica Reaches Quarter-finals

by Soumadeep Bagchi

Darwin Nunez’s late header took Benfica through to the Champions League quarter-finals with a 3-2 aggregate win after a battling defensive display in Amsterdam.

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Benfica did it.Verissimo did his homework on Ajax and for all of their possession, Benfica managed to stop Ajax from creating any clear-cut chances. The Eagles were compact and one shot on target was all they needed to make it through.

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Benfica are through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2015/16. The Eagles have not advanced beyond the last eight since finishing runners-up in 1990.

This was only Benfica’s second win in 17 against Dutch clubs (W8 D7), and their second victory in 15 against all opposition away from home in the Champions League.

Ajax have not won a home game in the Champions League knockout stages since 1996. They have since drawn four and lost five.

Much like the teams’ meeting in Lisbon, the first half was all Ajax. Antony menaced down the right, Dusan Tadic schemed on the left and Ryan Gravenberch gracefully roamed the middle with all the unencumbered ease of a man wearing velvet slippers. Yet for all their dominance, the hosts reached half-time with nothing to show for it.

Soualiho Meïte came on to interrupt Ajax’s flow, and Benfica kept the Dutch side at arm’s length with some comfort until they won a free-kick near the corner flag with 13 minutes left. Alex Grimaldo swung it in and Darwin rose majestically above his marker and past the onrushing Andre Onana to send the Eagles through.

Player of the Match;Benfica’s Darwin Nunez :”He scored the all-important goal, worked hard for the team and endeavoured to cause problems for the Ajax defence. He showed real leadership throughout,”
UEFA Technical Observer panel.


Benfica forward Darwin Nunez said ,”We knew we were going to suffer and we did. We had to enjoy it when we had the ball. I am tired. We all ran a lot.”

Benfica coach Nelson Verissimo said,”We couldn’t play the game we wanted but if it doesn’t work one way it has to be another. We didn’t manage to have the ball, we knew we would have moments where it was necessary to have courage and commitment in the defensive process.”

Ajax captain Dusan Tadic said ,”We were the better team. Benfica did nothing, except for one free-kick. We wanted to dominate, and we did, but then in one moment… unbelievable.”

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag said, “Our positional play was excellent. We were very good on the ball. Only the creativity was lacking. It’s bitter that one lapse in concentration and you’re eliminated.”


Champions League Ajax Benfica Football Sports  Kolkata

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