Champions League 2018/19, round of 16: 5 performances that went under the radar
It was just another spell of 14 days where the Champions League continued to exhibit its most deep-seated qualities. There were spectacular goals, turnarounds, tactical masterclasses, heroic comebacks and heroes, of course.
The first leg of the arduous round of 16 fixtures bestowed a whole lot of talking points and moments to cherish. But, a lot equations changed in the second leg as many teams portrayed braver hearts in their approach and pipped their opposition to progress to the quarterfinals.
Cristiano Ronalo and Lionel Messi, along with others such as Sadio Mane, Romelu Lukaku and Raheem Sterling might have robbed the headlines, but there were quite a few players who shone for their side and didn't quite hit the back pages of the dailies. Few characters, in fact, beg your pardon.
On that note, let's take a look at five such unsung heroes from the enthralling round-of-16 fixtures that unfolded before our eyes.
#5 David Neres (Ajax Amsterdam)
Ajax put forth a performance for the ages. They have been in top form all season, but they certainly headed into the second leg against Real Madrid with a job on their hands. And of course, the Dutch giants had the firepower in their ranks to portray some free-flowing football.
But after having conceded two goals at home, they traveled to the Spanish capital knowing that a miracle and only a miracle could take them through to the next round, against the reigning champions Real Madrid.
Huge credit goes to their valiant approach, along with the hunger and desire they showed. Ajax had a lesser share of the ball, but with a bit more urgency, direct passes through the channel and zip, they looked far more threatening.
Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech engineered the comeback, but take nothing away from David Neres, who set the field ablaze with his daunting dribbles and pace.
Tadic sent Casemiro packing with a sublime half-turn and spotted the run of Neres, who still had a lot to do to beat Courtois. He did so brilliantly, by keeping his calm and chipping it over the former Chelsea custodian.