AFC Ajax suffered a traumatic 3-0 defeat by runaway Group D winners Real Madrid CF which, combined with Olympique Lyonnais' astonishing 7-1 victory at GNK Dinamo Zagreb, consigned them to third in the section.
Despite resting a number of first-team regulars it was the visitors who drew first blood in Amsterdam through José Callejón and Ajax's misery was compounded when Gonzalo Higuaín doubled the visitors' lead shortly before half-time. Miralem Sulejmani hit the bar but Lyon's stunning comeback meant the home side were already destined for the UEFA Europa League when Callejón scored his second late on.
Lyon began the evening needing to win, for Ajax to lose and to orchestrate a seven-goal turnaround in the process. Keeping things tight was therefore the order of the day for Frank de Boer's men – instead, they were behind after 14 minutes. Kaká's deft pass found Callejón in space on the edge of the box, and the striker calmly controlled before slotting it between Kenneth Vermeer's legs.
The goalkeeper was in the thick of it again soon after, keeping out Karim Benzema's low shot, while at the other end Antonio Adán had to get down smartly to smother Christian Eriksen's effort from 20 metres. Ajax then had two efforts ruled out for offside: first when Nicolás Lodeiro had headed in after Adán could only parry Gregory van der Wiel's drive; then Vurnon Anita's shot was deflected into the net by Sulejmani.
It got worse for the four-time European champions as Higuaín latched onto a magnificent crossfield pass by Benzema to rifle into the roof of the net for Madrid's second. Back came Ajax, and the second half was eight minutes old when Sulejmani's superb chip came back off the woodwork with Adán stranded.
By then Lyon were 4-1 up, needing to score twice more as things stood to eliminate Ajax. Vermeer made a crucial diving save to deny Esteban Granero to keep it that way but when those Lyon goals duly came, Ajax sent on strikers Dmitri Bulykin and Davy Klaassen to force the issue.
The French side scored again, meaning that by the time Callejón made it 3-0 Ajax's fate was already sealed. At full time the home players sank to their knees; yet Madrid progress serenely, becoming only the fifth side to finish the group stage with a 100% record.