The long reign of Cristiano Ronaldo as the king of European club football is over and a known rival is waiting behind the scenes to claim his crown.
While Ronaldo left the Champions League with Juventus on Tuesday night, ending his hopes of winning a fourth consecutive medal in the competition, Lionel Messi guided Barcelona in the semi-finals with a victory over Manchester United.
Messi scored two goals, the first representing a superb curling effort from the edge of the box, the second a gift from David de Gea, who let his sneaky shot squirm under him and into the goal.
Ronaldo also scored for the 126th time of the competition, but that was not enough as Ajax came from behind to win a 2-1 win in the night in Turin and a total 3-2 win in total.
The Barca will play its last four meetings with Porto or Liverpool, hoping Messi will get a fifth medal in the Champions League, along with his Portuguese rival – the only other player in world football to be in the same class like Argentina.
Ronaldo’s race ends
Ronaldo scored 126 goals in the Champions League, including 65 incredible in the round of 16.
The last time he did not reach at least the semifinal phase was the 2009-10 season, when his Real Madrid team was eliminated in the last 16 by Lyon.
Ronaldo’s victories in 2008 and 2014 have been added in each of the last three seasons, but he will not reach a fourth consecutive final thanks to Light’s Matthijs head for Ajax.
The striker has played 48 Champions League matches since the start of the 2015-16 season: 31 wins, 8 draws and 8 defeats. During this race, he scored 49 goals and collected another 14 assists.
Ronaldo’s first-half lead in Turin allowed him to score his 25th goal in the Champions League quarter-finals, while Messi had to put an end to a drought against United.