Juventus keeps their nose ahead against impressive Ajax

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his return from injury with a precious away goal as Juventus drew 1-1 with an excellent Ajax in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal in Amsterdam.

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 on Wednesday.

However, 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.

Despite that, 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.

"Ronaldo showed that he is on a different level. His timing and movement is different to everyone else's, there's nothing you can do about it," said coach Massimiliano Allegri.

"Ajax have great quality. We suffered after their goal but we defended well and finished the game better." Ronaldo was making his first appearance since suffering a thigh injury playing for Portugal last month -- it was his first game for Juventus since netting the hat-trick that dumped out Atletico Madrid in the last 16.

The 34-year-old is aiming to win the trophy for the fourth year running, and his goal here came from the visitors' only attempt on target.

Ajax had set up this tie by ending Real Madrid's European hegemony in the previous round after a thrilling 4-1 victory in Spain, and maintain hope going into the return.

"It is not the result you hope for, but it is a result. Last time we lost 2-1 to Madrid at home so we are still in it," said their coach, Erik ten Hag.

His brilliant young side is likely to be broken up at the end of this campaign, so this may be the Amsterdam club's best chance in a long time to win a fifth European Cup.

Moroccan international, Hakim Ziyech, who was the most prominent going forward in the first half, had one curling effort in the 18th minute was heading for the top corner before being tipped over by Wojciech Szczesny.

Ajax certainly should have scored in the 25th minute when Dusan Tadic set up Donny van de Beek, but his shot went agonisingly wide.

Juventus only displayed their attacking threat in patches, with Federico Bernardeschi lively and Ronaldo hooking one chance wide.

The latter was kept largely quiet but opened the scoring with the last act of the first half.

Ronaldo collected a pass from the elegant Rodrigo Bentancur, spread the play to Joao Cancelo and then ran unhindered in a straight line into the box to head home his compatriot's perfectly flighted cross.

The Ajax fans greeted their team's return for the second half with a rendition of Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, and they were still belting out the words to their adopted hymn when they equalised within a minute of the restart.

Neres robbed Cancelo by the left touchline just inside the Juventus half and advanced before curling a shot beyond Szczesny and into the far corner. 

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Juventus keeps their nose ahead against impressive Ajax

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