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Benfica 2-2 Ajax

Ajax twice went ahead but was held to a 2-2 draw by Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.

Erik ten Hag’s team rifled in 20 goals in the group stages and picked up where they left off at the Estadio da Luz as Dusan Tadic struck first before Sebastian Haller’s own goal levelled things up.

Haller made amends by restoring Ajax’s lead just four minutes later, becoming just the fifth player to score in seven straight games in the competition. Yet, Roman Yaremchuk equalised with 18 minutes remaining.

A hot-tempered finale did not produce a winner, with the draw leaving it all to play for in the return leg on March 15 at the Johan Cruijff Arena.

Tadic showed composure to nudge his side ahead after 18 minutes with an expert right-footed finish into the top-right corner following Noussair Mazraoui’s bouncing cross.

Benfica responded quickly when Jan Vertonghen’s fizzing delivery cannoned off Haller into his net.

But the Ajax man atoned for his mistake shortly after.

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Benfica 2-2 Ajax

The striker poked in a rebound from his shot after intelligent work by Steven Berghuis.

Although Haller then turned wide with the goal gaping after Edson Alvarez had hit the post at the end of a frantic first half.

A deflected Everton strike squirmed just past the upright after the interval.

While Rafa’s low drive evaded Darwin Nunez, who would have had a tap-in had his despairing dive made contact.

Benfica 2-2 Ajax

What does it mean? Ajax missed a record-breaking chance.

Ajax already held the record for the most consecutive wins in the Champions League and European Cup by a Dutch side after opening up with six group-stage victories. Still, a triumph in Lisbon would have created more history.

Ten Hag’s side looked like becoming the first team outside of Europe’s top five leagues to win seven straight matches.

However, Yaremchuk’s late intervention makes it a one-legged shootout in the next meeting with Benfica.

Who are winless in their past seven encounters with Ajax in European competition.

Terrific Tadic.

Tadic continues to deliver for Ajax both in Europe and domestically.

The playmaker has been involved in 28 goals (10 goals, 18 assists) in just 31 appearances this season.

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Benfica 2-2 Ajax

Zero to hero for Haller.

Haller became the first player to score a goal and an own goal in a Champions League knockout match.

Since Dries Mertens in March 2017 (for Napoli vs Real Madrid).

At the right end, his second finish made him the first player to find the net 11 times in his opening seven appearances in the competition.

At the same time, he equalled the all-time Ajax record for goals in a single European campaign, level with Ruud Geels in the 1975-76 UEFA Cup.

What’s next?

Benfica returns to domestic action at home to Vitoria on Sunday, when Ajax visit Go Ahead Eagles. The return leg of this tie is on March 15.

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