Player ratings as Nunez goal seals quarter-final berth

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A Darwin Nunez goal proved to be the difference at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on Wednesday evening, as Benfica secured a place in the Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of Ajax.

The home side almost wholly dominated the game, but a resolute Benfica held firm before snatching a 75th minute winner.

Following a frantic start to the game, in which both teams pressed forward with real intent, Ajax’s star man Sebastien Haller found the back of the net. The former West Ham man finished off a lovely sweeping Ajax move started by Daley Blind, but as the ball was trickling over the line, the assistant referee lifted his flag and ruled the goal out for offside.

The non-goal heralded the start of a period of dominance for Ajax, as Dusan Tadic in particular began to pull strings. His delivery from the left flank was a real cause for concern for the visitors, who could only watch as a delightful cross from the former Southampton man was latched onto by Lisandro Martinez at the back post. The resulting header, however, skidded wide of the post.

Ajax continued to pepper the Benfica goal throughout the rest of the first half. Ryan Gravenberch saw a decent long range effort tipped over the crossbar by Odisseas Vlachodimos around the half hour mark, and Steven Berghuis scuffed a shot from near the penalty spot about five minutes later.

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