Real Madrid reign brought to shock end as Ajax thump holders
Los Blancos, the winners of the last three Champions Leagues, were sent tumbling out as Ajax hit Santi Solari's men for four at the Bernabéu.
Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (3-5 agg.): match report
by Jonathan Meaney
The last time that Ajax beat Real Madrid at the Bernabéu was in 1995 after the Dutch side, made up of the likes of Patrick Kluivert, Jari Litmanen and Frank Rijkaard, had won the Champions League a few months prior in May.
And if Ajax’s current crop were looking to the 1995 champions for inspiration ahead of the second left of their last-16 tie against Real Madrid, they certainly found it, mercilessly thrashing Los Blancos 4-1 in front of their own stunned supporters at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Erik ten Hag’s side went into the game 2-1 down after the first leg but were full of confidence that they could turn over a Madrid side still bruised and battered after back-to-back defeats to Barcelona in the same stadium last week.
Ajax were ruthless and clinical in the counter attack, allowing Madrid to attack and biding their time to take their chances on the break. Former Southampton midfielder, Serbian Dusan Tadic was the man of the match, providing the final pass for Ajax’s first two early goals scored by Moroccan-born Hakim Ziyech (7’) and Brazilian David Neres (18’).
The Serbian dispossessed Toni Kroos, darted towards the box and squared it to Ziyech to finish off the first goal; while for the second, he pulled off a jaw-dropping roulette to take the ball around two defenders before setting up Neres, who expertly sent it passed Courtois from six yards.
After setting up the first two goals in the first half, Matic got himself on the scoreboard on the 62nd minute with a stunning strike from distance driven into the top left corner, sending the significant contingent of Ajax’s travelling fans further into ecstasy.
Madrid, now needing three goals, gave themselves a glimmer of hope eight minutes later, when Asensio, scorer in the previous leg in Amsterdam, drove a first-time shot from just inside the box into the bottom right corner.
But those hopes were firmly dashed just two minutes later by Lasse Schone, whose free-kick strike is a sure contender for goal of the tournament. From an acute-angled free kick set piece on the left, where a cross would have been more appropriate, the Danish midfielder Lasse somehow managed to curl the ball over Courtois and into the top right corner. Judging from his run up, he may have well intended to cross it. But if that is the case, one suspects it will be a secret he will keep to the grave.
And at that it was 4-1 to the visitors and 5-3 on aggregate with Los Blancos again needing three goals, and with just 20 minutes (plus stoppage time) to find them. Unfortunately for the Madrid crowd, who also had to watch Vinicius and Lucas Vazquez hobble off early in the first half, it did not happen, and Los Blancos were out of their third competition in the space of a week, after suffering their fourth consecutive home defeat.
Outstanding Ajax, meanwhile, march on to the quarterfinals after humiliating the titleholders in their own backyard, with star-man Matic likely signing Madrid coach Santiago Solari’s redundancy papers.
Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (3-5 agg.): highlights
The two changes to the side that lost to Barcelona on Saturday see Nacho come in for the suspended Sergio Ramos at the heart of the holders' defence, and Lucas Vázquez replace Gareth Bale in attack.
Real Madrid bench: Keylor Navas, Vallejo, Bale, Marcelo, Valverde, Asensio, Ceballos. All of which means that Isco is one of the three players culled from Santiago Solari's initial squad! Mariano Díaz and Luca Zidane are the other two who get the chop.
If you're looking to get yourself in front of a TV screen for tonight's last-16 second leg at the Bernabéu, you may wish to have a shufties at our useful guide on how and where to watch Real Madrid vs Ajax.
"Real Madrid have one bullet left... a cannonball": that was the take of AS editor Alfredo Relaño in his daily opinion article this morning, as he looked ahead to a Champions League second leg in which Los Blancos' final hope of winning major silverware this season is at stake.
Benzema scored a peach against Ajax in the first leg. He was in a rich vein of form back then but his goals have dried up since then. Should Real Madrid be concerned?
These Mourinho links just will not go away. He refuses to kill the speculation either.
Six players at Real Madrid who could see the door this summer. If they get knocked out tonight, that process will be sped up, I'm sure.
Some of the talent likely left out tonight for Real Madrid includes: Marcelo, Isco and Bale. Three players who, when fit, were vital to Real Madrid's last three Champions League wins and the fourth in 2013.
Hello and welcome to out build-up of the Real Madrid vs Ajax game at the Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday night at 21:00. Real Madrid hold a 2-1 lead (two away goals) but Ajax had the weekend off and will be raring to go for this one as they look to take advantage of Real Madrid's recent poor form.
Real Madrid vs Ajax: preview
Real Madrid host Ajax in the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie at the Santiago Bernabéu, where Los Blancos start the game with a 2-1 cushion from the first leg in Amsterdam.
After suffering two back-to-back Clásico losses, one of which saw them eliminated from the Copa del Rey and the other all but killing any hopes of a LaLiga title, Madrid will look to get back to winning ways in the only competition they can now realistically win. Coach Santiago Solari knows that anything less than leading Madrid to a fourth consecutive Champions League title will likely see him out of a job next summer.
Having claimed two valuable away goals in Amsterdam three weeks ago, Solari’s side have one foot in the quarter final but will be wary of a young Ajax team that are more than capable of creating an upset. Karim Benzema and substitute Marco Asensio scored Los Blancos two goals in the first leg, and the former will likely start up front in a trident completed by Lucas Vazquez and wonder boy of the hour, Vinicius, who created a piece of magic to set up the Frenchman’s opening goal at the Amsterdam Arena.
Ajax’s hopes of a stunning victory will partly rest on the shoulders of Barcelona-bound midfielder Frenkie De Jong, who admitted this week that Barca had asked him “to do my best in eliminating Madrid from the competition”. The 21-year-old has been compared to Barca legends Xavi and Andres Iniesta, two players who knew all about winning at the Bernabéu.
If De Jong is to do his new employers a favour and knock out the reigning champions, the young playmaker will firmly depend on help of Hakim Ziyech, scorer of Ajax’s lone goal in the first leg who has found the net on 17 occasions this season, and Serbian, Dusan Tadic, who has 25 goals to his name. Meanwhile central defenders Daly Blind and Matthijs de Ligt will be tasked with keeping Madrid from adding to their two-goal tally. For them, a clean sheet is practically imperative if the 1995 winners are to have any chance of progressing to the quarter finals.
Madrid will be without captain Sergio Ramos, who misses the game through suspension after picking up a yellow late on in the first leg, something which he controversially admitted to doing on purpose to ensure he was available for the next round. However his plan ultimately backfired when UEFA handed him a two-match ban for deliberately getting booked, meaning he will miss the first leg of the quarter final if Madrid go through.
Ramos will be a big loss against an Ajax team that will have no choice but to go all-out attack to find the at-least two goals they need to progress. Nacho will be the likely replacement for the Madrid captain in the centre of defence alongside Raphael Varane. Marco Llorente is the only injury concern for Solari.
Meanwhile Ajax coach Erik ten Hag will be without Vaclav Cerny, Lisandro Magallán, Hassane Bandé and Carel Eiting, but has his full strength eleven available to send out at the Bernabéu.
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