Champions League - Round of 16 - 2nd Leg
Real MadridReal Madrid1AjaxAjax4

Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax: Brilliant visitors knock out Champions League holders

By Harry PooleBBC Sport
Dusan Tadic
Former Southampton player Dusan Tadic scored a sublime third for Ajax, having assisted their first two goals

Scintillating Ajax stunned 13-time European champions Real Madrid at the Bernabeu to progress from a Champions League knockout tie for the first time in 22 years.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Erik ten Hag's side stormed into an aggregate lead after just 18 minutes through forwards Hakim Ziyech and David Neres.

The electric Dusan Tadic, provider of his side's first two goals, then added a brilliant third as he whipped an effort into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Chasing a fourth consecutive Champions League triumph, Real looked to have gained a lifeline when Marco Asensio scored with 20 minutes remaining.

But Ajax's Danish midfielder Lasse Schone scored a spectacular free-kick just two minutes later to leave Santiago Solari's side requiring three goals to progress.

Gareth Bale, jeered by fans in Saturday's defeat by Barcelona, was dropped by Solari but struck the post after coming on as a 29th-minute substitute for the injured Lucas Vazquez.

Real looked fragile without captain Sergio Ramos, serving a two-match ban "for clearly receiving a yellow card on purpose" in the tie's first leg.

Their miserable night was compounded as Nacho was sent off in injury time for a second bookable offence, as Ajax became the first team to overturn a 2-1 first-leg home defeat in the Champions League.

Ajax come of age in superb Bernabeu display

This was a performance of sheer quality by a young Ajax side who arrived at the home of the European champions with no fear as they danced through to the quarter-finals.

A last-16 meeting with Real was the club's first knockout tie in 13 years, and with six of their starting side aged 22 and under, there is the sense something special could be achieved this season - although the challenge of holding on to those players when the next transfer window opens will be significant.

The visitors needed at least two goals in Madrid and learned from their wastefulness in the first leg to silence the home support inside 18 minutes.

Ajax had to weather early pressure, but Ziyech's fine finish came as a powerful blow to their bewildered hosts.

Tadic, almost unrecognisable from his Southampton days, produced a moment of excellence to set up Neres before seemingly putting the tie out of reach with a finish that epitomised his performance.

There was a long wait before the video assistant referee eventually confirmed Noussair Mazraoui had managed to keep the ball in play during the build up to Tadic's goal - as nervous tension paved the way for wild celebrations in the away end.

Barcelona-bound Frenkie de Jong shone brightly too - with his pending £65m move to La Liga already a concern for Real - but it was fellow midfielder Schone who added the deserved gloss just as Real may have sensed hope.

Ajax could have had even more as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was forced to stop efforts from Donny van de Beek and Tadic, while the impressive Matthijs de Ligt stood firm alongside Daley Blind under periods of pressure.

The visitors more than held their own against the holders, and could play a huge part in the final stages of this season's competition should they maintain such a devastating level of performance.

Real lose battle to keep season alive

Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez - once of Ajax, now of Real Madrid's main rivals Barcelona - tweeted his congratulations to his former club

After three consecutive Champions League titles, the most successful side in the competition's history did not see this coming.

Ajax head coach Ten Hag had suggested that absence of Ramos for Real was "not only a tactical loss for them but also a mental one". Ultimately, he was proven correct.

Real's aggregate advantage disappeared quickly without their captain's authority, despite a promising start in which Raphael Varane had headed on to the bar from a cross by Vazquez, who drew a fine save from Andre Onana before injury forced him off, to be replaced by Bale.

The Wales forward received a warmer reception than he had at the weekend, with Asensio also sharpening the hosts' attack when he came on for Vinicius Junior before half-time.

When Asensio made it 4-3 on aggregate, he appeared to have dragged his side - with a reputation of churning out results in Europe - back into the tie.

But Ajax crushed any hope of a comeback just moments later, effectively ending Real's season, given that they fell 12 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona at the weekend.

Nacho's dismissal and an injury to Bale in the closing stages rounded off an ugly night for the home side.

Having gone eight campaigns without failing to reach the Champions League semi-finals, it now looks as if a summer of change awaits at the Bernabeu.

Man of the match - Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

Dusan Tadic
Ajax forward Dusan Tadic was pivotal to his side’s devastating attack, assisting two and scoring one in a complete performance that included five key passes

Tadic leads the way in Europe's elite competition - the stats

  • Real Madrid are the first reigning Champions League winners to fail to qualify for the quarter-final stage since Chelsea in 2012-13.
  • And they have lost four successive games at the Bernabeu for just the third occasion in their history.
  • Real's 4-1 defeat by Ajax was their biggest ever margin of defeat in a home knockout game in European competition.
  • Ajax are now unbeaten in each of their previous 48 Champions League matches in which they've scored the opener - winning 40 of those.
  • It is the first time Ajax have progressed in a Champions League knockout stage tie since the 1996-97 campaign.
  • They become just the third away side to score four or more goals in a Champions League match at the Bernabeu.
  • And Ajax are only the second team to eliminate Real Madrid from a European knockout tie having lost the first leg at home.
  • Dusan Tadic has been directly involved in more goals than any other player in the Champions League this season (six goals, three assists).
  • Tadic is the second Ajax player to have scored six or more goals in a single Champions League campaign, after Jari Litmanen.


Real Madrid

Formation 4-3-3

  • 25Courtois
  • 2CarvajalBooked at 30mins
  • 5Varane
  • 6NachoBooked at 90mins
  • 23Reguilón
  • 8Kroos
  • 14CasemiroSubstituted forValverdeat 87'minutes
  • 10Modric
  • 17VázquezSubstituted forBaleat 29'minutes
  • 9Benzema
  • 28Vinícius JúniorSubstituted forAsensioat 35'minutes


  • 1Navas
  • 3Vallejo
  • 11Bale
  • 12Marcelo
  • 15Valverde
  • 20Asensio
  • 24Ceballos


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 24Onana
  • 12MazraouiBooked at 26minsSubstituted forVeltmanat 81'minutes
  • 4de Ligt
  • 17Blind
  • 31Tagliafico
  • 20SchöneSubstituted forde Witat 73'minutes
  • 21de Jong
  • 22Ziyech
  • 6van de Beek
  • 7NeresSubstituted forDolbergat 74'minutes
  • 10Tadic


  • 3Veltman
  • 8Sinkgraven
  • 9Huntelaar
  • 19Labyad
  • 25Dolberg
  • 28Semedo Varela
  • 30de Wit
Dr. Felix Brych

Match Stats

Home TeamReal MadridAway TeamAjax
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Real Madrid 1, Ajax 4.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Real Madrid 1, Ajax 4.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Donny van de Beek.

  4. Dismissal

    Second yellow card to Nacho (Real Madrid).

  5. Booking

    Nacho (Real Madrid) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Nacho (Real Madrid).

  7. Post update

    Donny van de Beek (Ajax) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Nacho (Real Madrid).

  9. Post update

    Kasper Dolberg (Ajax) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Real Madrid. Federico Valverde replaces Casemiro.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Daniel Carvajal (Real Madrid).

  12. Post update

    Kasper Dolberg (Ajax) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) left footed shot from very close range is too high. Assisted by Dusan Tadic.

  14. Post update

    Offside, Ajax. Kasper Dolberg tries a through ball, but Dusan Tadic is caught offside.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Joël Veltman.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Luka Modric.

  17. Post update

    Marco Asensio (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Joël Veltman (Ajax).

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kasper Dolberg.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Ajax. Joël Veltman replaces Noussair Mazraoui.


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