Soccer shocker: Ajax ousts 3-time champ Real Madrid
Madrid had reached at least the semifinals in 8 straight seasons
Kings of Europe no more. Real Madrid's Champions League reign is over.
More than 1,000 days since winning the first of three consecutive European titles, Real Madrid unprecedented era of dominance ended with a whimper when the Spanish giant was stunned 4-1 by Ajax at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday.
The humiliating loss meant Madrid was eliminated 5-3 on aggregate in the round of 16, leaving the club looking at a trophy-less season in its first campaign since mega-star Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus.
"We were not going to win the Champions League forever," said Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez, who was sent off in the final minutes of the game. "Reigns eventually come to an end. Something like this was going to happen sooner or later."
In the end, the club renowned for assembling its team with expensive "Galactico" signings was undone by a club centred around a core of homegrown young talents.
Ajax, which is enjoying a resurgence thanks to young stars like Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, needed less than 20 minutes to reverse a 2-1 deficit from the first leg, 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 with a free kick from a tight angle in the 72nd. Marco Asensio had pulled the hosts closer a couple of minutes earlier.
In Tuesday's other game, Tottenham won 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund to go through 4-0 on aggregate, reaching the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011.
Ajac was playing in the last 16 for the first time since 2006 and will be making its first quarterfinal appearance since 2003
For Madrid, it was the fourth straight home loss in all competitions, something that hadn't happened since 2004, and capped one of the worst weeks in the club's recent history. The team was coming off two demoralizing home losses to archrival Barcelona — 1-0 in the Spanish league and 3-0 in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.
Out of the Copa del Rey and 12 points behind Barcelona in the Spanish league, the Champions League was Real Madrid's only realistic chance of winning anything this season.
Madrid hadn't lost a Champions League knockout tie since the 2015 semifinal against Juventus. It had reached at least the semifinals in eight straight seasons and hadn't failed to make it past the last 16 since 2010.
In the group stage this season, it had lost 3-0 to CSKA Moscow at the Bernabeu for what had been its worst ever European loss.
Madrid was without suspended captain Sergio Ramos, who was sanctioned by UEFA for deliberately earning a late booking late in the first leg, and the defence struggled from the start on Tuesday. The attack also faltered again, with the forwards missing chance after chance.
Tottenham moves on
Borussia Dortmund's hopes of an unlikely comeback were denied by Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane as Tottenham reached the Champions League quarter-finals with a 1-0 win on Tuesday.
Kane's 49th-minute strike after Lloris had made a series of outstanding saves ensured the visitors completed a 4-0 win on aggregate after securing a comfortable lead in the first leg of their last-16 meeting.
Moussa Sissoko played the ball into Kane's path 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 duly dominated the game in terms of possession and chances, offering the visitors no respite.