March 6 – As end of eras go, few have been quite as humiliating as that of Real Madrid who spectacularly crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday having won the trophy for the past three years and four of the last five.
Real were thrashed 4-1 at home by Ajax who, remarkably, overturned a first-leg deficit to reach the quarter-finals at the Nou Camp in Madrid 5-3 on aggregate.
Real sorely missed their absent captain Sergio Ramos who was banned by UEFA for the last-16 second leg after picking up a yellow card in the 2-1 first-leg victory in Amsterdam and had it doubled after admitting he had deliberately tried to get booked.
Ramos was forced to watch from the sidelines as his side, 12 points behind Barcelona in the Spanish league, were torn apart by an exciting youthful Ajax side in what was their joint heaviest ever home defeat in Europe.
The result, which caused shockwaves across world football, heaped more pressure on Real coach Santiago Solari in his first – and almost certainly last – season in charge. Real are currently 12 points behind Barcelona in La Liga and are also out of the Spanish Cup.
“Madrid is bigger than any of us, it always returns and returns stronger,” Solari declared defiantly afterwards. But Real defender Dani Carvajal added: “I think I have never felt this awful, I do not know how to explain it. This week everything has gone against us. Tonight we cannot look for excuses. We have to show our faces and not hide, our season has been a piece of sh..”
Ajax have won the trophy four times but not since 1995 and reached the last eight of Europe’s top competition for the first time since 2003.
Man of the match Dusan Tadic (pictured centre), who capped a virtuoso display with a wondrous finish for Ajax’s third goal, said: “This is probably the best game of football I’ve ever played. We beat the best club in the world.”
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