Ajax sent packing

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Darwin Nunez scored the winner as Benfica beat Ajax in Amsterdam to reach the Champions League quarter-finals. 

After an entertaining first leg ended 2-2 in Lisbon, the return was far tighter and the visitors had done little to threaten before Nunez struck. The Uruguayan beat Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana to head in a whipped free-kick with 13 minutes to go.


Ajax dominated and Sebastien Haller had the ball in the net early on, but Dusan Tadic was offside in the build-up Yet for all the home side’s possession they struggled to break down a resolute Benfica defence that was well marshalled by veteran centre-backs Nicolas Otamendi and former Ajax and Spurs man Jan Vertonghen.


Belgian Vertonghen also headed wide from a rare chance for the visitors, who showed little ambition and looked most likely to threaten from a set-piece.


And that was how it turned out, with Nunez popping up with the decisive goal in the tie from Alex Grimaldo’s superb delivery.


Antony had looked lively for the Dutch outfit and fired on target from distance before heading another effort over the crossbar – as what had been a buoyant atmosphere inside the Johan Cruyff Arena began to turn nervy.


In the end it was Benfica’s vociferous travelling support who were left chanting as their players enjoyed celebrations on the pitch, with the Portuguese outfit reaching the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign.




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