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Ajax Amsterdam followed up their elimination of Real Madrid by producing a spell-binding display of inventive, passing football to win 2-1 away to Juventus on Tuesday.

The win by Ajax ended the Serie A team’s dreams of winning the Champions League.


Ajax’s 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt headed the winner from the corner in the 67th minute of the quarter-final second leg.

The Dutch side came from behind to clinch a 3-2 aggregate win and reach the last four for the first time since 1996/97.

Cristiano Ronaldo, aiming for a fourth successive Champions League title after winning the last three with Real Madrid, put Juventus ahead in the 28th minute.


It was a typically emphatic header and the Portuguese sixth goal of the competition.


But Donny van de Beek leveled six minutes later before the visitors swept Juventus aside in the second half with wave after wave of attacks as they earned a semi-final against Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur.


Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana gave his team an early scare when his clearance was charged down by Emre Can but the rebound flew wide.


Ajax settled well after that but, despite not playing well, Juventus went ahead when Ronaldo got away from the defenders to score the 126th Champions League goal of his career.


There was a long delay for the VAR review, the referee eventually going to the pitchside monitor with the ball back on the center circle ready for the re-start, before the goal was confirmed.


Ajax kept their cool and took six minutes to level, helped by a somewhat lucky break.


Hakim Ziyech’s long-range shot hit a defender and fell perfectly for Van de Beek who, unmarked and onside, slotted the ball calmly past Wojciech Szczesny.


But the Dutch side had to wait for another long VAR check before the goal was confirmed.


Ajax took complete control in the second half and their geometric passing repeatedly opened up the Juventus defense, which sorely missed injured veteran Giorgio Chiellini.


Szczesny made one-handed save from Ziyech after Juventus were opened up again and then turned Van de Beek’s curling shot over for a corner.

Juventus were rocking but, ironically, Ajax’s winner came from an old-fashioned header as De Ligt outjumped two defenders to score.


Ajax had chances for further goals and Ronaldo’s frustration boiled over in stoppage time when he was booked for a lunging tackle from behind near the center circle.

(Reuters/NAN)

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After a thrilling opener against hosts Tanzania on Sunday, the Eaglets will file out today against their Angolan counterparts at the 60,000 capacity Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar Es Salaam in what could be described as a consolidation mission.


The Garba Manu tutored side fired five goals past their Tanzanian opponents in the opening match but it was not an easy feat as the hosts were equally in goal scoring mood getting four goals past the Eaglets.


Indications that it would be goals harvest day, emerged when Alfred Olaniyan opened the scoring of the Eaglets in the 21st minute, but Tanzania immediately responded a minute later thanks to Edmund Godfrey, the match eventually ended 5-4 in favor of Nigeria.


Should Eaglets defeat Angola who only managed a lone goal victory over Uganda on Sunday, they would automatically pick one of the tickets to FIFA under 17 World cup in Brazil even with an inconsequential last group match against Uganda on Saturday at the Chamazi Stadium.


The Eaglets are eyeing a third Africa Under 17 Nations cup trophy on one hand and a ticket to their 9th FIFA under 17 world cup appearance. Nigeria has won the world cup in this category five times viz 1985, 1993, 2007, 2013 and 2015. She has also ended up as runners up three times viz 1987, 2001 and 2009.


Although soccer fans who watch Tanzania versus Nigeria match on Sunday gave the boys a pat on the back for emerging victorious, some, however, say the team needs to be more clinical to avoid losing grip, especially when faced with a more compact side.


The Nation.

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Shares in Italian club Juventus plunged nearly 21 percent in early trading on Wednesday after Cristiano Ronaldo's side were knocked out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage by Ajax.

At 0715 GMT, the shares were down nearly 21 percent at 1.356 euros in trading in Milan.

Shares of the club have always mirrored the fortunes of the team in the UEFA championship. The share price fell 14 percent in February after the team lost the first leg of the Round of 16 at 0-2 to Atletico Madrid. It was the biggest fall since 2017.


The shares rose after the second leg, in March, in which Cristiano Ronaldo banged a hat trick against the Spanish team.

The Turin club’s shares also fell in the wake of the allegations of rape against their biggest player, Ronaldo.


NAN

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- Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci has moved to clarify controversial comments he made in the wake of racist abuse suffered by his team-mate Moise Kean.

- Kean was subjected to racist abuse, including monkey chants, from the stands as the Serie A leaders won 2-0 at Cagliari on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old took a stance of defiance after scoring a late second goal as he stood arms aloft in response to the chants.

Bonucci provoked outrage by suggesting after the match that Kean was wrong for provoking the home fans.

He said: "There were racist jeers after the goal, Blaise [Matuidi] heard it and was angered. I think the blame is 50-50, because Moise shouldn't have celebrated like that, and the Curva (stand) should not have reacted that way."

The Italy international wrote on Instagram: "After 24 hours I want to clarify my feelings.

"Yesterday I was interviewed right at the end of the game, and my words have been clearly misunderstood, probably because I was too hasty in the way I expressed my thoughts.

"Hours and years wouldn't be enough to talk about this topic.

"I firmly condemn all forms of racism and discrimination. The abuses are not acceptable at all and this must not be misunderstood."

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Real Madrid are ready to invest 500 million euros in the summer market to bring the best. With Mbappé, Pogba and Hazard being priority targets, according to L'Equipe

French newspaper L'Equipe front page reported that Real Madrid has prepared 500 million euros to strengthen the squad as Kylia Mbappé, Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard would be the first options in the list of Real Madrid signings.

To try to convince the three cracks, the French newspaper mention that the interests of three players have in being under the command of Zidane.

Both Pogba and Hazard have not hidden their illusion in public for being trained by Zizou. They have done it even in recent times, although their departure from United and Chelsea do not seem easy.

But even more difficult seems to be able to take Mbappé out of Paris. As has been reported by MARCA in recent days, the striker is a cornerstone of PSG's sports and financial project, so they have no intention to let their striker go.

It will not negotiate and Madrid has already made clear that it will not present any offer.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic says Manchester United must forget Sir Alex Ferguson because his former success is holding the club back.


Ferguson retired in 2013, having won 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League trophies during an unprecedented 26-year reign, and has since watched United struggle for consistency.


Under three separate managers - all of whom appeared keen to distance themselves from Ferguson's regime - United have failed to win a league title at five times of asking, finishing outside the top four three times.


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, however, has never shied away from mentioning "the gaffer" since taking caretaker charge in December, inviting his former manager to the training ground, and the dressing room on one occasion.


But former United striker Ibrahimovic feels this is the wrong approach, telling the Mirror: "Everything that happens is judged by the era of Ferguson.


"They are saying if Ferguson was here, this would not happen, Ferguson would not do it like that. Ferguson would do it like this. Everything was Ferguson.


"If it was me, I would say I don't have Ferguson anymore. And I come here and I want to make my own history, I want to make my own story.


"So I do not want to hear what happened before. I want to do it in the present. You come in with a new mentality.


"Ferguson has his place in history at this club but now the club continues. It has to find its own identity and it is difficult."

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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes should expect a Ferrari resurgence in F1 2019's next races after pre-season predictions were turned on their head at the Australian GP.

Mercedes' one-two qualifying and race finish in Melbourne was an "incredible achievement", according to Hamilton, after a winter testing programme where their Italian rivals had looked ominously strong.

Asked if he was surprised to see Ferrari so far behind on the opening weekend, Hamilton replied: "Everyone is, probably. No one was expecting to have a gap like that when we came into the weekend.

"Honestly, what I was shown and led to believe from the analysis we were given, was that they were ahead. It obviously wasn't the case during this weekend and I'm not quite sure why their performance was how it was.

"I wouldn't say we particularly over-delivered, we did our normal job in the sense of our operations, and the team did an exceptional job throughout the weekend.

"I don't know what their problem was. I'm sure they'll come back strong in the next races so we've got to stay on our toes."

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In-form Romelu Lukaku will need a late fitness test ahead of Manchester United's FA Cup quarter-final against Wolves on Saturday due to a sore foot.

Lukaku has regained his position as the first-choice striker in recent weeks and has scored six goals in his last four games.

His double against Paris Saint-Germain helped United overturn a first-leg defeat to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

Solskjaer said he was "hopeful" the striker would pass an injury assessment on Friday.

Phil Jones is available again for Solskjaer after missing four matches through illness, and Anthony Martial, Ander Herrera, and Jesse Lingard are all training again.

Ashley Young is suspended for the match, while Juan Mata, Antonio Valencia, and Matteo Darmian are also unavailable.

"Obviously we've got a decision to make as to who is match fit," said Solskjaer.

Alexis Sanchez is not expected to return to action until at least United's trip to Everton on April 24, but the forward will return from Barcelona this weekend after receiving treatment on his knee injury.

"He's not been on grass yet," said Solskjaer. "He's been seeing his people in Barcelona. He's still a few weeks away.

"If we get to Everton, Manchester City, Chelsea - that period - he probably will be available."

Sanchez has scored just five goals in 41 games since joining United from Arsenal.

Asked if the club will ever see Sanchez's best form, Solskjaer said: "I hope so.

"You can never be 100 per cent sure but Alexis is such a determined lad, he loves football, so I'm sure he's doing everything he can that when he comes back he's going to show his best side."


Source:

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Gus Poyet says he spoke to Gareth Bale at training on Thursday and the Welshman told him he is happy at Real Madrid.

Zinedine Zidane's return as Real Madrid manager raises questions over whether the former Tottenham forward will still be at Madrid beyond the summer. Bale reportedly endured a tense relationship with Zidane during the Frenchman's previous tenure.

Although reports suggest the 29-year-old could be on his way out of Madrid this summer, Poyet believes he is happy to remain with the Champions League holders after having a discussion with him at Real Madrid's training complex on Thursday.

"I saw a good, happy Gareth Bale, even if there have been some problems on the pitch," he told The Debate.

"In Spain, there's a lot of talk about how Zidane is going to have plenty of power in the summer to renew the squad.

"Yes, [I spoke to him]. I saw he was happy. I asked him 'how are you?' because of all this. He said he's so happy there.

"He has three kids. The weather was unbelievable. Playing for Real Madrid in that weather with his family in Madrid... I cannot see him leaving except if, of course, the manager tells him.

"We talk about golf that he likes a lot because everybody is talking more about that than his football, but he's doing well."

Poyet said there were no discussions at training about Eden Hazard, who has also been strongly linked to the club in recent months.

However, the former Sunderland and Brighton boss questions why Real did not sign the Chelsea forward last summer.

He added: "I thought the summer it was the perfect moment for him to go because of [Cristiano] Ronaldo leaving, Hazard coming in to fill that place.

"I don't know what happened or if they were looking at him with the manager Julen Lopetegui. But now with Zidane back they'll want to start again."

Source:

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Pep Guardiola, Manchester City manager has once again expressed his doubt on the Premier League champions’ readiness to win the Champions League for the first time despite being favorites for the competition.

City host Bundesliga strugglers Schalke on Tuesday with a 3-2 first-leg lead in their last 16 ties hoping to avoid the pitfalls that did for Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid in Champions League shocks last week.

Guardiola admitted even he was taken aback by Manchester United’s stunning 3-1 win in Paris and holders Madrid’s capitulation to a talented young Ajax team but refuted suggestions their elimination had cleared the way for City to finally conquer Europe.


“We are teenagers in this competition that’s my feeling. It does not excuse, of course, we want to win it,” said the Catalan coach on Monday.

“You have to dream and point as high as possible but at the same time you have to accept there are other teams thinking the same with a lot of quality and lot of talent.”

Guardiola was annoyed by City’s mistakes in conceding two penalties and having Nicolas Otamendi sent off 22 minutes from time in Gelsenkirchen three weeks ago despite turning around a 2-1 deficit with 10 men through late goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling.

And he used that experience to warn his players against any complacency.

“In domestic competition, there is another game, in this competition, there is not another game. It is something unique, the focus is incredible and when you make something wrong they (the opponent) punish it,” he added.

“Schalke had two shots on target and scored two goals. We played 23 minutes 10 v 11 when we could avoid that second yellow card from Nico.

“We are lucky today we are here 3-2 up when we could be 3-1 or 4-1 down. That’s the reality in this competition. (There is) work to do, be calm and focused.”


Gundogan future is unclear 

Along with the suspended Otamendi, Fernandinho will again miss out through injury, but the Brazilian’s absence has not been felt as badly as first feared due to Ilkay Gundogan’s form.

The German has deputized ably in the holding midfield role but has so far refused to commit his future to City beyond his current contract, which expires in 2020.

“There is no decision yet otherwise I would have signed or rejected a contract. I would say we are still in talks,” said Gundogan.

“I’m 28 years old now so obviously my next contract will decide where I am for maybe the end of my career.

“Everyone feels different, (whether) to go for a new challenge or change something. I am always open-minded for challenges, it is not (an) obvious (decision).

“Everyone has to make their own decision and at the moment I try to play as good as possible.”

Guardiola, though, urged Gundogan to make his intentions clear.

“I would prefer him to stay but at the same time I want to feel he wants to stay too,” said Guardiola.

“If he doesn’t want to stay, he has to leave.”


AFP

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