Ajax are through to the quarter-finals after a stunning 4-1 win at Real Madrid.
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Ajax produced a performance for the ages at the Santiago Bernabéu to overturn their first-leg deficit and knock out Real Madrid. Goals from Hakim Ziyech and David Neres turned the tie on its head inside 18 minutes, with Dušan Tadić – who had assisted both first-half efforts, sensationally so for the second – adding a thumping third just past the hour to leave Madrid with a mountain to climb.
Marco Asensio's strike gave the hosts – who had also hit the woodwork through Raphaël Varane and Gareth Bale – brief hope, only for Lasse Schöne to quickly curl in direct from a free-kick wide on the left.
It was a truly remarkable night for Erik ten Hag's side.
View from the stadium: Ben Gladwell
Ajax had been unfortunate to lose the first leg and tonight they showed their true value with a courageous and outstanding display. Four years ago Real Madrid conceded four at home to Schalke in the last 16 but progressed regardless. This is a far more painful defeat for the holders, though, who had not lost a UEFA Champions League knockout tie since the 2014/15 semi-finals.
Man of the match: Dušan Tadić
Sometimes there is some debate about who has had the most influence on a game, but not this evening. Tadić was imperious, setting up two of the goals and scoring a beauty himself. His range of flicks, dribbles and passes must have reminded the home supporters of the great Zinédine Zidane, no less. Always available for the out ball, always apparently one step ahead of his opponent; he was unplayable.
- Madrid had never lost by three goals at home in UEFA competition before December – now it has happened twice in as many games.
- This is the first time Madrid have lost consecutive UEFA Champions League home matches.
- This is only the third UEFA Champions League tie where a team has gone through after losing at home in the first leg – and the second time, after their 1995/96 semi-final against Panathinaikos, that Ajax have done so.
- Madrid have lost four games in a row in all competitions for the first time since April/May 2004.
- Ajax are through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2002/03.
- This is the first time Madrid have lost in the round of 16 since 2009/10.
What does it mean?
There will be a fresh name on the trophy for the first time since 2016, marking the end of an era. Madrid were aiming to make it four in a row – a feat achieved just once in European Cup history, the Merengues themselves winning the competition's first five editions from 1956–60. For Ajax, the dream of a first European trophy in 24 years is alive and kicking.
Ajax, two points shy of Eredivisie leaders PSV, will try to maintain their domestic title hopes before the quarter-final first leg next month. The Amsterdam club entertain Fortuna Sittard (10/03) and Zwolle (13/03) as well as visiting AZ Alkmaar (17/03) prior to the international break. Then PSV come to Amsterdam. They have the Dutch Cup final – against Willem II in May – to look forward to, too.
It has not been a good week for Madrid, knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Barcelona last week before losing to the same opponents in the Liga at the weekend. Twelve points off the top-flight summit, they must now concentrate on ensuring their return to challenge for European glory next term.