March 21, 2019

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Ajax Stuns Real Madrid, Ending Its Reign in Champions League

Ajax Stuns Real Madrid, Ending Its Reign in Champions League
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Ajax stunned host Real Madrid, 4-1, in the Champions League on Tuesday, eliminating Madrid on aggregate and ending the three-time defending champion’s run of dominance in the competition.

Ajax won the two-legged series on aggregate, 5-3. It needed less than 20 minutes to reverse a 2-1 deficit from the first leg in Amsterdam, with Hakim Ziyech scoring in the seventh minute and David Neres in the 18th.

Dusan Tadic, who set up both first-half goals, added to the lead in the 62nd, and Lasse Schone sealed the Dutch team’s triumph — and its first Champions League quarterfinal appearance since 2003 — with a free kick from a tight angle in the 72nd.

Marco Asensio had pulled Real Madrid closer a couple of minutes earlier.

It was the fourth straight home loss for Madrid, something that had not happened since 2004, and capped one of the worst weeks in the club’s recent history. It also tumbled out of the Copa del Rey and the Liga title race.

The defeat also ended an era of dominance in the Champions League: Madrid had won the last three titles and reached at least the semifinals in eight straight seasons, and it had not failed to make it past the round of 16 since 2010.

The humiliating defeat to Ajax followed two demoralizing home losses to Barcelona — by 1-0 in the Spanish league and by 3-0 in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.

Madrid, in its first season without Cristiano Ronaldo, had not lost a Champions League knockout tie since a 2015 semifinal against Juventus.

In Tuesday’s other game, host Borussia Dortmund’s hopes of an unlikely comeback were denied by Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane as Tottenham reached the Champions League quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory.

Kane’s 49th-minute goal, after Lloris had made a series of outstanding saves, enabled Spurs to complete a 4-0 win on aggregate after securing a comfortable lead in the first leg.

Moussa Sissoko played the ball into Kane’s path on the goal and the England striker, who missed the first leg with an ankle injury, picked his spot before dispatching an unstoppable effort past Roman Buerki in the Dortmund goal.

Dortmund needed to overturn a three-goal deficit, and it dominated the game in terms of possession and chances but could not force a shot past Lloris. Jan Vertonghen made a crucial interception to deny Marco Reus, and Paco Alcácer went close before Lloris made a brilliant reflex save to thwart Reus’s deflected shot.

Dortmund had 11 shots in the first half alone.

Reus flashed an effort across the face of goal as Dortmund started the second half in the same vein, but then Kane ended any remaining suspense.

It was the first goal Dortmund conceded at home in the Champions League this season.



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