The reign of Real Madrid in Europe is over and their season could well be too after they were stunned by a 4-1 defeat at home to Ajax on Tuesday.
In seven days, Madrid have been knocked out of the Copa del Rey, La Liga’s title race and now the last 16 of the Champions League, the competition they had come to believe was their own.They had won it three times in a row, four times in the last five years, while the last time Madrid failed to reach the quarter-finals was 2010, in Cristiano Ronaldo’s first year at the club.
Ronaldo rescued Madrid last season in the quarter-finals and then Gareth Bale won them the trophy, but the former is gone and the latter started on the bench here, dropped again by Santiago Solari.
Bale was on after 29 minutes for the injured Lucas Vazquez but the Welshman hit the post and missed two good chances.
Toni Kroos, poor all night, was caught in possession from a throw-in and Dusan Tadic skipped free down the right. Tadic pulled back for Ziyech, who guided it with his left foot into the far corner.
Ajax were bouncing as Neres baffled Dani Carvajal with a pirouette in the corner and then Tadic did the same, spinning around Casemiro in midfield before teeing up the second. Neres rounded Thibaut Courtois and chipped the ball home.
Vazquez and Vinicius Junior both left the field injured and in tears, the latter after an electric run forward. Bale came on, with Asensio, and raced down the left but his finish from the angle clipped the post.