An exuberant Ajax team send shockwaves around the footballing world by knocking defending champions, Real Madrid, out of the Champions League on Tuesday night.
The Dutch outfit took the game to the hosts at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and came away with a shocking yet thoroughly deserving 4-1 victory in the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie.
Having won the first leg 2-1 at Ajax, defending champions, Real Madrid, were the outright favorites to book their place in the quarterfinals. However, what unfolded at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday night was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
'Today we have to be honest … we deserve to go out,' says Toni Kroos after Real Madrid's humiliating 4-1 home defeat by Ajax in the Champions League pic.twitter.com/NfCcVJ9cfw
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) March 6, 2019
The visitors took the game to their lofty rivals right from the very first minute. Their passing, movement, pressing oozed confidence, and Real Madrid couldn’t cope with the onslaught. It took the Dutch outfit only 18 minutes to storm into an aggregate lead. Forwards Hakim Ziyech and David Neres capitalized on Real Madrid’s defensive lapses and put two goals expertly past Thibaut Courtois.
🙌 @AFCAjax fans waking up this morning like…
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 6, 2019
Real Madrid went into the half-time trailing 2-0 in the own backyard. Santiago Solari’s desperation to turn the tie around reflected in the opening stretches of the second half, as Madrid finally looked to put pressure on the visitors. However, despite playing convincingly in the middle of the pitch, they couldn’t take their chances and eventually allowed Ajax to regain their foothold.
🇳🇱 Dusan Tadic for @AFCAjax this season:
🏟 40 Games
⚽️ 26 Goals
🎯 15 Assists
🤯 Form of his life. pic.twitter.com/4dltekK8nh
— SPORF (@Sporf) March 6, 2019
Soon after, Ajax added to their tally through Dusan Tadic, who curled his effort into the top-left corner. Marco Asensio pulled one goal back to offer the home crowd a glimmer of hope, but a magnificent free-kick from Ajax full-back Lasse Schone crushed Madrid’s hopes for good.
Ajax’s Classy Display
Most teams in the world end up paying too much respect to Real Madrid’s apparent invincibility in the Champions League. But last night, Ajax showed the world exactly how to take on a team of Real Madrid’s calibre.
Real Madrid’s famed midfield trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Casemiro was invisible for the most part, restricted by Ajax’s high-pressing midfield. Not only did they look exquisite on the ball, but they also managed to look aggressive without it. The VAR ruled in their favor for the third goal, but they probably deserved a bit of luck for being so magnificent at the Santiago Bernabeu.
A Night to Forget for Real Madrid
Coming into the match on the back of two consecutive Clasico defeats, Real Madrid needed something positive to bounce back. Sadly, Ajax weren’t in no mood to help the reigning champions out.
After finding themselves a goal down, Real Madrid tried to get back in business, but injuries to Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Jr threw them off their game. None of Madrid’s superstars stepped up to the plate. There were a couple of good moments, here and there, but the hosts needed more than a couple of moments to see Ajax through.
Real’s Season Officially Dead
It took only 7 days for Real Madrid to evaporate their title chances for good. Last Wednesday, they suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. Three days later, Barcelona, once again, emerged victorious – this time, a 1-0 win in La Liga, which saw Los Blancos slip 12 points behind the league leaders.
And finally, in the tournament they love the most, they were thrashed 4-1 by Ajax, killing off their title aspirations in the worst possible manner.
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