This week’s Champions League quarter final first legs provided plenty of Portuguese involvement, with Cristiano Ronaldo and João Cancelo leading the big stories during Juventus’ 1-1 draw with Ajax in Amsterdam. Ronaldo scored Juve’s goal, provided by Cancelo, but the defender later lost possession ahead of the Dutch side’s equaliser as the tie remains in the balance.
Meanwhile in Manchester, Portuguese full-backs Diogo Dalot and Nélson Semedo faced off as representatives for Manchester United and Barcelona respectively, with the Spanish champions edging the match 1-0. Bernardo Silva missed out on the action, however, with injury ruling him out of Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
The match at the Amsterdam Arena saw goals either side of the break, with Ronaldo putting Juventus ahead on the stroke of half time. Portugal right-back João Cancelo clipped a superb ball into the box to meet the run of Ronaldo, who powered his header past Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. Ajax levelled in the first minute of the second half when Cancelo’s poor touch gifted possession to David Neres and the Brazilian produced a wonderful solo goal.
Ronaldo’s goal was his 125th in the Champions League, putting him well out in front as the competition’s all-time record goalscorer. Only Lionel Messi is within 50 goals of the Portugal captain; the Argentine is on 108, while Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez is in third place on 71 in Europe’s premier club competition.
“Ronaldo proved once again he is a player of a different level,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said after the match. “His timing and movement is different to everyone else.”
Portugal star Ronaldo had returned to action following three weeks out after picking up an injury during the international break. His goalscoring return was naturally the subject of the Thursday headlines in the Italian media, with local paper TuttoSport leading their front page with the words "Juve flying with Ronaldo”.
Meanwhile, Corriere dello Sport wrote "Two shots, one goal – when there is Champions League football, the Portuguese returns to behave like a boss. He had been out since 25 March but he could not miss this game and he was decisive."
Barca edge United; Bernardo misses out
Barcelona take a 1-0 lead back to Camp Nou after beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford, in what was a surprisingly low-key game. An early own goal from Luke Shaw gave Barcelona the advantage heading into the second leg, with little in the way of goalmouth action throughout the evening in England.
Diogo Dalot continues to get high level experience in a United shirt and the former Porto full-back gave another confident display in his left wing-back role. On the other side – and in direct competition with Dalot – Nélson Semedo was selected at right-back by Barcelona and was typically sharp in dealing with United’s threats down that side.
Elsewhere, an intriguing contest in London between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City ended with the home side securing a 1-0 win thanks to a late goal from Son Heung-Min. Bernardo Silva was ruled out ahead of the match, but Pep Guardiola’s comments after the game suggest the Portugal man was not seriously injured.
“Bernardo couldn’t play,” the Man City coach said. “During the season there are injuries, there are problems and hopefully next week maybe Bernardo will be fit.”
By Sean Gillen