Ajax eliminates Madrid in round of 16 of Champions League


Real Madrid’s Champions League reign is over.

Ajax stunned Madrid 4-1 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday, eliminating the three-time defending champion 5-3 on aggregate in the round of 16 — and ending an unprecedented era of dominance by the Spanish team in the competition.

Ajax needed less than 20 minutes to reverse a 2-1 deficit from the first leg, with Hakim Ziyech scoring in the seventh minute and David Neres in the 18th.

Dusan Tadic, who set up both first-half goals, added to the lead in the 62nd, and Lasse Schone sealed the Dutch team’s triumph — and its first quarterfinal appearance since 2003 — with a free kick from a tight angle in the 72nd.

Marco Asensio had pulled the hosts closer a couple of minutes earlier.

It was the fourth straight home loss for Madrid in all competitions, something that hadn’t happened since 2004, and capped one of the worst weeks in the club’s recent history. The team was coming off two demoralizing home losses to archrival Barcelona — 1-0 in the Spanish league and 3-0 in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.

Madrid, in its first season since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus, hadn’t lost a Champions League knockout tie since the 2015 semifinal against the Italian club. It had reached at least the semifinals in eight straight seasons and hadn’t failed to make it past the last 16 since 2010.

Ajax was playing in the last 16 for the first time since 2006.

The Bernabeu crowd went silent early when Ziyech opened the scoring after a breakaway that started with a run by Tadic through the right flank. The already nervous crowd was stunned again about 10 minutes later when Neres added to the lead from close range after Tadic got past a few Real Madrid defenders with a run from near the midfield, clearing Casemiro with a superb spin move and dribble. Neres beat Luka Modric to Tadic’s through ball and went past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois before finding the open net.

Things got worse for Madrid as both Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior had to be substituted before halftime because of injuries — being replaced by Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio.

Vinicius Junior was hurt at the end of a long run in which he nearly opened the scoring for Madrid. The young Brazilian appeared to be crying as he made his way back to the bench.

Bale struck the woodwork with a shot over Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana just before halftime.

Raphael Varane had hit the crossbar with a header less than five minute into the match, and he also missed from close range later in the first half. Asensio and Nacho Fernandez also wasted opportunities as Madrid’s lack of scoring touch was costly again.

Although the hosts kept pressing, it was Ajax that kept threatening the most throughout the game, missing several chances to increase its lead.

Tadic got his goal with a left-footed shot from inside the area, which was upheld after a lengthy video review to see whether the ball had gone out of play before Ajax launched a quick counterattack. Asensio gave his team a glimmer of hope in the 70th, but it was snuffed out just two minutes later when Schone’s curling free kick from the left flank beat Courtois and sealed the stunning triumph.

Nacho was sent off in injury time after collecting two quick bookings.

Tottenham 1, Borussia Dortmund 0

InDortmund, Borussia Dortmund’s hopes of an unlikely comeback were denied by Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane as Tottenham reached the Champions League quarterfinals with a 1-0.

Kane’s 49th-minute strike after Lloris had made a series of outstanding saves ensured the visitors completed a 4-0 win on aggregate after securing a comfortable lead in the first leg of their last-16 meeting.

Moussa Sissoko played the ball into Kane’s path and the England striker, who missed the first leg with an ankle injury, picked his spot before dispatching an unstoppable effort past Roman Buerki in the Dortmund goal.

“Lloris was great. The mentality was good,” Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino said. “We conceded more chances than we expected, but that is football. When you beat them 3-0 in the first leg, it’s always difficult. There was nothing to lose for Borussia Dortmund, and they were taking a lot of risks.”

With Dortmund needing to overturn a three-goal deficit, the hosts duly dominated the game in terms of possession and chances, offering the visitors no respite.

“We created good chances. The only thing missing was the goal. Kane’s goal pulled the plug,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said.

Jan Vertonghen made a crucial interception to deny Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer went close before Lloris made a brilliant reflex save to thwart Reus’ deflected shot.

Son Heung-min, who sparked Tottenham’s win in the first leg, had the visitors’ first big chance after half an hour played, but spurned the opportunity with Marius Wolf tracking back to put him off.

Dortmund responded with even more pressure. Julian Weigl, Reus, and Mario Goetze all went agonizingly close — the latter denied by a fingertip save from the outstanding Lloris.

It was the home side’s ninth attempt on goal. By the time the first half ended, Dortmund was up to 11 — and still scoreless.

Reus flashed an effort across the face of goal as Dortmund started the second half in the same vein, but then Kane ended any remaining suspense.

It was the first goal Dortmund conceded at home in the competition this season.

Dortmund, which has only one win from its last eight competitive games, has only the Bundesliga remaining. It still leads on goal difference from Bayern Munich, but only just after squandering what was once a nine-point lead.

“This should give us confidence for the championship,” Zorc said of his side’s remaining title ambitions.



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