Real Madrid’s run as the three-time defending European champions has come to a stunning end, as the Spanish side was defeated 4-1 at home by Ajax on Tuesday, eliminating them from the Champions League in the Round of 16.
Madrid held a 2-1 lead heading into the second leg of the knockout tie, but the Dutch visitors overwhelmed the hosts to win 5-3 on aggregate.
Ajax Survives Fast Start from Real Madrid
The loss was the worst at home for Real Madrid in their European history, and effectively ended the club’s season. Real is currently 12 points behind Barcelona in the La Liga standings.
The match didn’t initially look to be going Ajax’s way. Real came out firing, nearly scoring less than five minutes of the game when Raphael Varane headed a ball off the crossbar.
But the initial flurry of excitement gave way to panic after Hakim Ziyech and David Neres scored within the first 20 minutes to give the visitors from Amsterdam a 3-2 lead on aggregate.
While Real pushed hard to generate offense, even bringing on Gareth Bale after just 29 minutes, they were unable to find an equalizing goal. To make matters worse, forward Vinicius Junior limped off the field with an injury after making a run from midfield.
Real attempted to open up the game in the second half, but that only allowed Ajax to increase its lead. Dusan Tadic – who also contributed two assists – scored on the counter to add a third goal for the visitors, with video review upholding the goal despite questions of whether the ball had gone out of bounds on the build up to the score.
Marco Asensio – who came on for Vinicius following his injury – managed to scrape one back for the hosts 70 minutes into the game, preserving some hope of a comeback. But it was not to be, as Ajax’s Lasse Schone scored again just a couple minutes later off of a free kick from the left side.
Madrid Suffers Through Nightmare Season
The loss is just the latest disappointment in an uncharacteristically poor season for Madrid, which has now lost four straight home matches. This is also the first time since 2010 that Real has failed to make it to at least the quarterfinal stage of the Champions League.
“It’s been a rough journey all season and it’s hard, not just tonight,” Real Madrid defended Nacho Fernandez told reporters after the match. “You have to raise your head and learn from mistakes, without forgetting what we have done.”
Ajax, Tottenham Advance to Quarterfinals
Meanwhile, Ajax have now advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2002-2003 season. The club has won four European championships, winning the European Cup three consecutive times in the early 1970s, then winning the Champions League in the 1994-95 season.
In Tuesday’s other Champions League match, Tottenham Hotspur scored a 1-0 victory at Borussia Dortmund to cruise to a 4-0 win on aggregate in the two-leg tie. Harry Kane added a goal early in the second half to close the door in the match, which will see Tottenham move to the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign.