Ajax Amsterdam stunned Real Madrid to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals after a 4-1 second-leg win to complete a historic 5-3 aggregate comeback victory.
Dusan Tadic had a goal and two assists as Ajax sent the three-time defending UCL champions packing from the competition in Madrid‘s worst home defeat in their European history.
The hosts, leading 2-1 from the first leg in Amsterdam and without suspended Sergio Ramos, were denied a dream start inside of five minutes when Raphael Varane smashed a headed shot from a Lucas Vazquez inswinger off the crossbar.
Minutes later, Ajax capitalised on a defensive blunder from Madrid and Tadic teed up Hakim Ziyech for a superb first-time finish to give the Eredivisie club an early 1-0 lead.
Tadic then set up Ajax’s second before the 20-minute mark, breaking free from his defender with a sensational move and playing a through ball behind the Real defence to David Neres, who rounded Thibaut Courtois and finished into an empty net to double the visitors’ lead.
Ajax, with six players in the starting lineup on cards, had Noussair Mazraoui see yellow for a hard tackle on Vinicius Jr., meaning he will miss the quarterfinal match due to card accumulation.
Desperate to turn the match around, Santiago Solari went to his substitute’s bench in the 29th minute to bring Gareth Bale into the match to replace Vazquez, who was injured prior to coming off.
Shortly after, the home side had Vinicius limp off in tears after suffering an injury at the end of a hard-charging run from midfield with Marco Asensio coming on to replace the 18-year-old.
Bale then rattled the post following his burst down the left flank to the endline and Madrid then had a penalty shout for handball rightly waved off in a flurry of activity in the Ajax penalty area after the miss.
Karim Benzema had the best chance to open the scoring for Madrid in the second half as he beat his defender in the area but curled his shot from a tight angle wide of the far post.
Ajax then found a remarkable third, once again hitting Madrid on the counter with Tadic providing the stellar finishing touch to beat Courtois from 18 yards away and put his team 3-0 up. The goal was reviewed after it looked like the ball had gone out of touch in the build up, but VAR was inconclusive and the goal stood.
Asensio was able to pull one back for Real on 70 minutes, but Ajax’s Lasse Schone canceled that out soon after with an incredible free kick from the left side of Madrid’s area to restore their three-goal lead to secure the historic win.
The loss was the fourth straight at home for Madrid — including two in a row to arch rivals Barcelona — something that hadn’t happened since 2004, and capped one of the worst weeks in the club’s recent history.
It also ends an unprecedented era of dominance in the Champions League after winning three straight titles. Madrid had reached at least the semifinals in eight straight seasons and hadn’t failed to make it past the round of 16 since 2010.
Ajax were playing in the round of 16 for the first time since 2006.