Ajax are on the brink of reaching the Champions League knockout rounds after they earned a 1-1 draw at Benfica. 

Ajax headed to Lisbon knowing a victory would seal their place in the knockout stages with two games remaining. Erik ten Hag decided to start with Dusan Tadic through the middle, instead of Kasper Dolberg, while David Neres and Donny van de Beek started.

Benfica began the game strongly with Andre Onana forced into two good saves within the opening ten minutes. However, the goalkeeper turned from hero to villain on 29 minutes as he gifted Benfica the opener. From a routine passback, Onana tried a Cruyff turn instead of clearing the ball and under pressure from Jonas he could only boot it out for a throw-in. From the resulting throw, Onana came out his goal but completely missed the ball which allowed Jonas to fire into an empty net.

Ajax were poor for most of the half but they got a massive chance to equalise on the stroke of halftime. A Lasse Schone free-kick was parried by the Benfica goalkeeper but Donny van de Beek’s attempt at the rebound just missed the sliding foot of Frenkie de Jong and ran out for a goal kick.

The start of the second half saw Ajax overrun at times by Benfica but they failed to add a second goal and the Dutch side eventually got a foothold on the game. In the 61st minute an equaliser came, with Hakim Ziyech sending a sensational ball over the top for Tadic, who took a touch past the goalkeeper before squeezing his shot into the net.

The last thirty minutes was open with both sides looking for a winner but the best chance fell to Benfica with the last kick of the game. A corner fell to Gabriel who unleashed a strike at goal, but Onana redeemed himself with an excellent save to seal a point for Ajax.

Ajax drop to second in the group below Bayern Munich but importantly stay four points ahead of Benfica and are now on the brink of the knockout round. Ajax can seal the job themselves in Athens in two weeks. They also reach the last 32 if Benfica fail to beat Bayern in Germany.

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