Soccer·CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ajax, Barcelona move on to semis, Ronaldo denied 4th straight title

Ajax eliminated another one of the favourites from the Champions League as it won 2-1 at Juventus on Tuesday to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1997 and end Cristiano Ronaldo's hopes of a fourth straight title.

Messi scores twice to eliminate Manchester United

Barcelona's Lionel Messi attempts a bicycle kick in his team's win over Manchester United on Tuesday. Messi didn't score on this try, but scored twice in the match. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Ajax eliminated another one of the favourites from the Champions League as it won 2-1 at Juventus on Tuesday to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1997 and end Cristiano Ronaldo's hopes of a fourth straight title.

Having already seen off Real Madrid in the previous round, Ajax showed no fear against Ronaldo and the Italian giant either, advancing 3-2 on aggregate after dominating much of the game.

Even going behind to a goal from Ronaldo in the first half didn't faze Ajax's young players as Donny van de Beek levelled shortly after and 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt scored the winner in the second half.

Ajax will play either Manchester City or Tottenham in the semifinals.

It is the first time since 2010 that Ronaldo failed to reach the last four, having won the competition the last three years in a row with Madrid. His old rival Lionel Messi is very much in contention, though, after scoring two goals to help Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-0 and progress 4-0 on aggregate in Tuesday's other quarterfinal.

Juventus signed Ronaldo in the off-season in the hope of ending a 23-year wait for the Champions League.

The 34-year-old Portugal forward scored a hat trick in the previous round against Atletico Madrid to almost single-handedly overturn a two-goal deficit, and had also found the back of the net in Amsterdam. He added his fifth goal in three Champions League matches in the 28th minute on Tuesday, heading in a Miralem Pjanic corner.

But Ajax levelled six minutes later when Hakim Ziyech's mishit shot turned into an assist for Donny van de Beek, who beat the offside trap to redirect it past Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Donny van de Beek of Ajax celebrates his goal on Tuesday. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Ajax grew in confidence in the second half and had a number of chances to take the lead, with Szczesny making a couple of stellar saves to keep the game level. But Juventus continued to look vulnerable without captain and key defender Giorgio Chiellini, and Ajax finally found its breakthrough in the 67th as De Ligt outjumped both Daniel Rugani and Alex Sandro to head in a corner.

Messi's pair dispatches Man U

Lionel Messi scored two early goals to send Barcelona into the semifinals for the first time in four seasons with a comfortable 3-0 win over Manchester United on Tuesday.

After Barcelona withstood some early pressure from United, Messi ended any hopes of a comeback for the Premier League side as the hosts advanced 4-0 on aggregate.

Messi opened the scoring with a brilliant solo effort in the 16th minute after he won possession of the ball, ghosted past a defender, and curled a shot into the far corner.

The second came just four minutes later, although Messi was helped by a massive error by David de Gea that time. The Argentina forward only managed a tame shot on goal but the Spain goalkeeper let it slip underneath him and into the net.

Philippe Coutinho added a third goal with a superb curling strike from long range in the 61st to cap arguably the best performance by the former Liverpool player since joining Barcelona just over a year ago.

"The image (we gave) was spectacular. This is who we are," Messi said. "I was fortunate the first went in, I struck it hard and just inside the post. I needed a little more luck on the second. The important thing is that we achieved our goal. We have taken one more step (to the title)."

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