Video: Ajax stun Champions League holders Real Madrid
Dutch side and Tottenham Hotspur qualify for the quarter-finals
Champions League round of 16 second leg Real Madrid 1 Ajax 4 (3-5 on aggregate)
Ajax produced one of the most sensational performances in European football history on Tuesday night to dump the holders Real Madrid out of the Uefa Champions League.
Spanish giants Real, the 13-time champions and the club who have dominated the competition for the past three seasons, were thrashed 4-1 in front of their stunned fans by the talented young Dutch side.
The Bernabeu faithful were broken at the sight of the humiliation, Real’s biggest ever margin of defeat in a home knockout game in European competition.
The annihilation at the hands of Ajax was their fourth successive defeat at home - a losing streak that has happened just twice before in their history - and not since Chelsea in 2012-13 have the reigning champions exited the competition so early.
“We’re sad and we’re annoyed,” said Real head coach Santiago Solari, whose side held a 2-1 advantage from the first leg in Amsterdam.
“We have to be professional and come back to work tomorrow. I have not come here to take on such a difficult moment at the club to then give up.”
Asked if he expected to be sacked, Solari said: “That’s not a judgement I should make… we get back to training. We have a league game at the weekend.
“We all have the obligation, a professional duty and because of our hearts we owe to this team to come and train and give our best.”
‘Close to perfection’
Few had given Ajax much hope going into the second leg, even if Real have been a shadow of their former selves this season. The Spanish side led 2-1 from the first leg but that advantage was soon extinguished as first Hakim Ziyech and then David Neres scored for the visitors.
The brilliant Dusan Tadic made it 3-0 on the hour mark, and although Marco Asensio gave Real hope with a goal ten minutes later, a blazing free-kick from Lasse Schone put the tie out of Real’s reach.
“This was pretty close to perfection,” said Ajax boss Erik ten Hag. “We have lots of individual great moments but as a team we played fantastically well.”
Ajax could have scored more but for a couple of good saves from Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as they progressed to the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 2002-03.
With six of their starting line-up aged 22 and under, Ajax are a coming force in European football and it was put to Ten Hag that they may have the potential to emulate the feats of the great Ajax side of the early 1970s.
“We have to live by the day, but we see a very interesting process as a team and as individuals,” he said. “The team deserves congratulations but the prizes are handed out at the end. It’s a vote of confidence for the philosophy of Dutch football and Ajax in particular.”
Spurs defy Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund 0 Tottenham 1 (0-4 on aggregate)
In the night’s other tie, a goal from Harry Kane eased Tottenham through to the last eight against Borussia Dortmund.
Defending a 3-0 advantage from the first leg in London, Spurs were always in the driving seat although they had to withstand some early pressure from the Germans.
Kane’s goal early in the second half shattered Dortmund’s spirit and Spurs are in the hat for the quarter-final draw on 15 March.
“We need to feel proud,” said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. “I am more than happy first of all for our players. They deserved it, the effort was brilliant.”