Ajax lost the first game in the eighth final of the Champions League against Real Madrid on Wednesday with 1-2. Just before time, the cup holder made the winning goal in the Johan Cruijff ArenA, after the Amsterdam club left many opportunities unused before the break.
Nicolás Tagliafico seemed to take the strong playing Ajax ahead of the break, but the goal was rejected after intervention by the VAR.
Shortly after the break it became 0-1 for Real via Karim Benzema, after which Hakim Ziyech equalized. It seemed to stay there, but three minutes before the end, Marco Asensio scored for the 1-2-final score.
Due to the loss, Ajax has a poor starting position for the return on Tuesday, March 5 in Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Team Erik ten Hag's team has to compete in the away match to reach the last eight in the Champions League for the first time since the 2002/2003 season.
60Ziyech makes Ajax the equalizer against Real Madrid
Ten Hag opts for Tadic as a striker
Like earlier this Champions League season against Bayern Munich and Benfica Ten Hag against Real for Dusan Tadic as deep striker. For David Neres, a place was released on the side and that variant worked well.
From the first minute Real was chased, with nice possibilities for Ajax as a result. Casemiro prevented with a sliding that Nicolás Tagliafico could continue towards the Spanish goal, after which Nouassir Mazraoui managed to break through on the right. The shot of the Moroccan international went low from a difficult angle.
After the Amsterdam storm had gone a bit, Real came out a few times dangerous. Goalkeeper André Onana saved on shots by Luka Modric and Vinícius Junior, but then the fierce Ajax took the initiative again.
In the 26th minute, Tadic was very close to the opening goal. After a good interception of Lasse Schöne the shot from the Serbian flew towards the cross, but the post prevented the 1-0. Ten minutes later Hakim Ziyech got a much bigger chance. The 25-year-old winger was the final station of a brilliant attack, but he did not get the ball from close by Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Shortly before halftime, Ajax seemed to express the prevalence in the score. At a corner Courtois half saved on a header from Matthijs de Ligt, which allowed Tagliafico to head in the rebound.
The ArenA applauded and Real was already ready for the kick-off when referee Damir Skomina refused the goal. After consulting the VAR, the conclusion was that Tadic bothered in offside position Courtois, making it halfway 0-0.
60Benzema puts Real Madrid 0-1 ahead against Ajax
Real is better in competition after rest
Without substitutions at rest it was Real that at the beginning of the second half better in the match ensured that the Madrid after 51 minutes finally managed to create a chance. A low pass came from the right to Karim Benzema, but Onana turned the low shot of the Frenchman in the short corner.
Ajax was warned, but after an hour of play it was at the second chance for Benzema. The dribbling Vinícius was not tackled by the Ajax defense and brought in the experienced striker. And where the players of Ajax did not always keep their sights sharp before the break, Benzema Onana had no chance with a shot in the top corner.
Ajax had already left an opportunity unused in the second half. Donny van de Beek sent Neres away with a nice pass, but the Brazilian drew too much to the side, allowing Courtois to turn his shot.
Hoping to force more, Ten Hag spent an extra ten minutes with Kasper Dolberg and successfully. Two minutes later, the deserved equalizer was a fact. The low cross from Neres was tailor-made and Ziyech rounded off (1-1).
The joy in the ArenA was great, but Ajax had to stay in class. With dangerous shots, substitutes Lucas Vázquez and Asensio were quickly close to 1-2. Three minutes before time it went wrong for Ajax when Asensio again appeared dangerous for the goal. The midfielder taps in a Carvajal cross (1-2).
In the absolute final phase Dolberg could have brought the score back into balance. De Deen got a decent chance, but Courtois caught in, making the quarterfinals of the Champions League far away for Ajax.
View the results and the program in the Champions League