Darwin Nunez headed dwelling within the 77th minute as Benfica shocked Ajax to succeed in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday, profitable the second leg of their last-16 tie 1-0 in Amsterdam to advance 3-2 on combination. The Portuguese aspect had not managed a single try on course till Uruguayan striker Nunez beat goalkeeper Andre Onana to Alex Grimaldo’s free-kick and headed in to silence the Johan Cruyff Arena. Ajax, who had dominated the primary half, couldn’t get well from that blow and exit whereas two-time European Cup winners Benfica stay up for Friday’s draw for the quarter-finals.
Having despatched Barcelona packing within the group stage, they are going to now seem within the final eight for the primary time since 2016.
“We are among the many eight greatest groups in Europe. The crew labored so laborious to attain this towards actually troublesome opponents,” said Benfica coach Nelson Verissimo.
Ajax’s star striker, Sebastien Haller, had been hoping to score in an eighth consecutive Champions League game this season having netted a remarkable 11 goals in his first seven appearances in the competition.
Yet he was upstaged by the 22-year-old Nunez as Benfica’s own prolific forward found the target for the 26th time in all competitions since the start of the campaign.
“We were not good enough in either box. We should have scored but didn’t take our chances and then we conceded an avoidable goal,” French-born Ivory Coast worldwide Haller informed broadcaster Canal Plus.
“It was the proper recreation for them. We go away with regrets however sadly that’s soccer. The crew who dominate don’t at all times win. We simply should be taught from our errors.”
A swashbuckling Ajax side had won all six games in the group stage before twice leading against Benfica in the first leg in Lisbon only to have to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Haller, who has 32 goals in total this season, had scored at both ends in that game and he had the ball in the net in the seventh minute here only for the effort to be ruled out because Dusan Tadic was flagged offside in the build- up.
Erik ten Hag’s prolific side, who are top of the Dutch Eredivisie, looked at their best in the first half but could not find a way through as Steven Berghuis blasted over on the volley from just inside the box.
Ryan Gravenberch then unleashed a superb shot that was tipped over by Benfica goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos, and he did not look as threatening in the second half.
Instead they found themselves behind for the first time in the tie as Nunez struck, and a Benfica team who lie third in the Portuguese league, 12 points behind leaders Porto, held on to join the cream of Europe’s elite in the last eight.