Ajax in Champions League quarterfinals after historic win in Madrid

Ajax in Champions League quarterfinals after historic win in Madrid

A miracle.  Ajax’s historic win against Real Madrid can definitely be called a miracle.  The 14th meeting between these clubs ended in a beautiful 1-4 win for the Amsterdam team, who are now among the final 8 teams in the UEFA Champions League.

Ajax’s starting position against the reigning Champions League team was not very favourable.  Three weeks ago, Ajax lost an amazing game at home to Real Madrid, 1-2.  Thus they would need to score at least twice in Bernabéu, and keep a clean sheet at the same time.  Still, they were confident, because if Ajax would play with courage, opportunities would come, and so would goals.  And then the dream that all Ajacieds cherish could come true.

Sticking to the Champions League version
Coach Erik ten Hag stayed with the 11 players from the home game, so with David Neres, Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech on attack.  The same team that had won the cup Classic by 3-0.  His fellow coach Santiago Solari was forced to make changes.  Captain Sergio Rámos was suspended after he had deliberately taken a yellow card in Amsterdam.

The Ajax coach expected a no-holds-barred Real, and this is what he got.  In the 4th minute, Raphael Varane sent a header onto the crossbar after a pass from Lucas Vásquez.

What a start!
But it was Ajax who took the lead.  In the 7th minute, Ziyech made a good play and passed to Tadic, who then sent the ball to the upcoming Ziyech.  The Moroccan sent a beautiful shot into the far corner: 0-1!

It gets even better
And it got even better!  First, Andre Onana made a save on Vásquez’s shot, but in the rebound,  the Amsterdam team scored again.  Tadic made a stunning pirouette, leaving Madrid’s defense in the dust.  He went on to pass to Neres, who beat keeper Thibaut Courtois with a high shot: 0-2!

Yellow for  Mazraoui
There were still 72 minutes on the clock.  And that’s a long time, especially when Noussair Mazraoui got a yellow card in the 25th minute.  The right back would then definitely miss the next game, but couldn’t afford any more mishaps in this game, either. 

Real Madrid knew this too, and continued to look for the attack on Ajax’s left side.  This resulted in another shot onto the post by Gareth Bale in the 43rd minute.  Ajax kept its safe 2-goal lead into halftime.

In the second half, Real Madrid was threatening and Asensio saw his shot go just wide in the 49th minute.  It looked like a long half was ahead, but Ajax made two threatening plays and, with a bit of luck, could have scored its third goal.  Madrid was in attack mode, leaving some room for the forwards.

And Ajax took full advantage of this space.  In the 63rd minute, Tadic brought Ajax into a 3-0 lead.  The video referee came into action at this point, as there was some doubt about whether the ball had gone over the side line after Mazraoui’s acrobatic move.  Referee Brych allowed the goal and Ajax was in the lead by 0-3!

The home team came back in the match.  It was Asensio who scored and brought the tension back into the game.  Ajax still had to get through the last 20 minutes.

But whoever might have thought that Ajax would have difficulty would have been wrong.  It was Lasse Schone who scored a beautiful goal on a free kick, only two minute after Madrid’s goal: 1-4.

Final blow
This was the final blow.  Four goals in Madrid.  On this Tuesday, March 5, Ajax handed Real its biggest European defeat in history.  What a dethroning of the reigning champion.  And Ajax qualifies for the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time since 2003!