Benfica shock Ajax with smash-and-grab victory

Striker Darwin Nunez headed home a 77th-minute winner as Benfica grabbed a shock 1-0 victory away at Ajax Amsterdam on Tuesday to secure a surprise Champions League quarter-final place.

The Uruguayan striker rose above the Ajax defence to score from a free kick in a rare attack for the Portuguese club, who put up a stout defensive performance at the Johan Cruyff Arena to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Benfica’s veteran centre back pair of Jan Vertonghen and Nicolás Otamendi were a defensive wall that Ajax were unable to break down, despite dominating possession and constantly attacking the visitors’ goal.

The Dutch club had won all their group games and, after a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the last-16 tie in Lisbon last month, were expected to ease through to the last eight with home advantage in the second leg.

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