Champions League review: Ajax stuns champions Real Madrid


Real midfielder Luka Modric, left, tries to stop Ajax's Dusan Tadic. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Here’s what happened on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League, in case you missed it…


Real Madrid 1, Ajax 4: Game story || Game stats
Borussia Dortmund 0, Tottenham 1: Game story || Game stats


No four-peat for Real Madrid
Estadio Bernabeu is traditionally where the Champions League dreams of Real Madrid’s opponents have gone to die. But on Tuesday, the venerable football cathedral was a house of nightmares for los blancos, who bowed out of the tournament at the round of 16 stage for the first time since 2010. Ajax overcame a 2-1 deficit from the opening leg to pull off one of the biggest upsets in European club competition in many years, ensuring that Real Madrid won’t win a fourth consecutive Champions League title.

Real Madrid are in a full-blown crisis. Losers of four of their last five games – including a 1-0 setback to Barcelona that essentially ended their domestic title hopes – Real have been knocked out of the Copa del Rey, the La Liga title race and the Champions League, a competition they won in four of the last five years, all in the span of a week. Real can only sit and watch from the sidelines for the rest of the season, and pontificate their amazing decline since bidding adieu to Cristiano Ronaldo last summer.

As for Ajax, they were fully deserving of Tuesday’s historic win at the Bernabeu, their first away from home in a Champions League knockout match since 1997 when they beat Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals. Playing in the round of 16 for the first time since 2006, Ajax showed well in the first leg in Holland, despite losing and conceding twice. The Dutch more than held their own against the Spanish giants, and they built upon that showing with a performance for the ages in Madrid. After weathering an early attacking storm by Real, Ajax began bossing the game at Bernabeu and took a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes, scoring both goals in transition. Real didn’t know what hit them, as they found themselves second to most balls and getting outworked by Ajax. Dusan Tadic was sensational in leading Ajax’s attack, sublimely setting up his team’s first two goals and then scoring himself to make it 3-0.

The pair of early goals were more than enough to send them through on aggregate, but Ajax, admirably, didn’t let up. Instead of sitting on their lead, they looked to add to it and keep Real down. A Marco Asensio goal made it 3-1 to offer Real a glimmer of hope, but any chance of a miraculous comeback was quickly extinguished when Lasse Schoene scored off a fabulous free kick moments later to kill off the game and send the three-time defending champions crashing out of the competition.


In the 18th minute in Madrid, Dusan Tadic took on five Real players on a fantastic run down the right – including pulling off a beautiful spin move – before laying off a perfect through ball for David Neres, and the Brazilian finished neatly from close range to give Ajax a 2-0 lead.


The Borussia Dortmund fans belt out an impressive version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” prior to kickoff.


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By all accounts, Dortmund dominated Tottenham in most aspects of the game for the opening 45 minutes, but couldn’t make it count for anything. Had they scored at least one goal, it might have put Tottenham on edge in the second half. Instead, Harry Kane made the German club pay for its lack of finishing by scoring in the 49th minute to put the final result beyond doubt.


• Dusan Tadic is the first Ajax player to tally two assists in a Champions League match since Christian Eriksen (vs. Dinamo Zagreb in November 2011).

• Tottenham have won all four of their Champions League matches vs. Borussia Dortmund.

• Tuesday marked the first time ever that Real Madrid conceded two goals in the first 18 minutes of a Champions League match at Estadio Bernabeu.

• No player has been directly involved in more goals than Ajax’s Dusan Tadic in the Champions League this season (six goals, three assists)

• Ajax are unbeaten in their last 48 Champions League matches in which they scored first (40 wins, eight draws).

• Borussia Dortmund winger Marius Wolf had more touches than any other player in the first half (74), and more than the two Tottenham wingbacks Ben Davies and Serge Aurier combined (53).

Stats courtesy of Opta


1) Dusan Tadic, Ajax: The Serbian set up the Dutch side’s first two goals, then scored a belter to seal a famous Ajax win in Spain.

2) Frenkie de Jong, Ajax: The youngster was a calming presence in midfield with his tidy passing and steady possession.

3) Harry Kane, Tottenham: Scored the game’s lone goal to stick the knife into Borussia Dortmund.


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