Benfica beat Ajax 0-1 and qualified for the quarterfinals of the Champions League, by obtaining four points out of a possible six, after drawing 2-2 in Portugal in the first leg.
True to form, Ajax started with possession of the ball (64% in the first half) and he chained the occasions to score, but without the necessary aim to reach the break with an advantage.
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Ivorian Sébastian Haller did score shortly after starting, assisted by the other star of the Dutch team Dusan Tadic, but the referee annulled it for offside by the Serbian midfielder (7).
The veteran Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen prevented the locals from opening the light in the 25th minute, rejecting a dangerous header from the Brazilian Antony and shortly after it was the Greek goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos who rejected a hard shot from the Dutchman Ryan Gravenberch (36), allowing Benfica to reach the break with the tie tied, despite the superiority of Ajax.
After the break, the pressure continued to allow Ajax to recover the ball in Benfica’s defensive zone and add scoring chances, although without precision in the shot, such as the umpteenth ball intercepted by Tadic near the Benfica area, but his placed shot went wide by very little (49).
But as time progressed, Benfica stretched and Vertonghen gave a first warning, with a header that was too crossed after a corner kick (57). Antony, very active throughout the match, came close to scoring for Ajax on the hour mark, but his header from Daley Bling’s cross went over the crossbar (62).
After forgiving so much, Ajax ended up paying for it: a lateral foul by the Mexican Edson Álvarezthe Spaniard Álex Grimaldo hung it in the heart of the area and there Darwin Núñez got up to head into the net (77).
It is the fourth goal of the Uruguayan striker this season in the Champions League, that shortly after scoring he left the field, visibly injured.
Pressured by the result, Ajax had even less clarity of mind in the final meters and although they pushed until the end looking for extra time, they were unable to score against Vlachodimos.
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