Cristiano Ronaldo's dominance of the UEFA Champions League came to a halt, for this season at least, when Ajax eliminated Juventus and the five-time winner thanks to a 2-1 win in Turin on Tuesday.
Goals from Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt gave Ajax a 3-2 aggregate win in the quarter-final, on a night when Lionel Messi destroyed Manchester United in the last eight's other tie.
Messi scored twice as Barca wrapped up a 4-0 aggregate win against the overmatched Red Devils.
- Juventus 1-2 Ajax (Ajax win 3-2 on aggregate)
- Barcelona 3-0 Manchester United (Barca win 4-0 on aggregate)
Ajax will now face the winner of Tottenham Hotspur's second-leg tie with Manchester City on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Barca will meet the winner of Liverpool vs. Porto in the other semi-final.
Juve won't be joining them, but the Bianconeri appeared to be coasting through when Ronaldo added to his immense tally of goals at this level. His finish on 28 minutes was his second of the tie and gave the hosts the aggregate lead.
Fortunately for Ajax manager Erik ten Hag, his young stars have the resilience to match their natural talent. The Eredivisie side drew level six minutes after Ronaldo's goal when 21-year-old Van Der Beek found the net.
Ajax notched a winner seven minutes after the hour mark when De Ligt, 19, got his head to the ball amid a crowd in the box:
De Ligt's goal proved enough for Ajax to secure a remarkable result and maintain status as the bane of the Champions League elite this season.
The inexperienced but precocious nature of this Ajax squad is perfectly illustrated by how long the club has waited to reach the last four again:
This may be new territory for De Ligt and Co. but it's familiar to four-time winner Messi. He was in imperious form against a United side still harbouring hopes of going through, despite losing 1-0 in the first leg at Old Trafford last week.
Those hopes were extinguished in the 30 minutes it took Messi to bag a brace. His first goal was a superb solo effort, while United goalkeeper David De Gea should get the assist for the second after failing to grab a tame, low shot.
De Gea and United might take heart from knowing they are far from the only representatives of the Premier League to feel Messi's wrath down the years:
Messi is still punishing English defences, and he's also still consistently scoring goals at alarming rates:
While Messi can be counted on to remain Barca's attacking talisman, Philippe Coutinho has struggled since moving from Liverpool in January 2018. Obviously knowing when to pick his moments, the Brazil international playmaker thundered in the Blaugrana's third to add to United's misery.
Barcelona aren't as fluid in possession as they were when the club bossed this tournament during Messi's younger years. Even so, the magic of the No. 10 and his combination with fellow striker Luis Suarez means Barca will take some stopping in the last four.