Real Madrid ajax League of legends
44 min: Super play by Ajax. They’re technically excellent and far more coherent than Real.
43 min: Bale scorches his way down the left, carries on into the box and clips the ball over the advancing goal …. and hits the post!
42 min: Bale chugs down the left and slips the ball through to Asensio. De Ligt hurls himself in front of the 15-yard shot, making another timely block.
40 min: So far no cameraman has picked out Sergio Ramos in the crowd. Slack work. They’d best rectify that before the end if the scoreline stays the same (or gets worse): the whole world wants to know whether he is, in fact, capable of looking chastened.
38 min: Ziyech delivers an out-swinging corner. De Ligt leaps high to head goalward from 12 yards. A defender blocks it and Real eventually hoof it to safety.
37 min: Bale hoists in a cross from the left. Onana bounds off his line to punch it away … but misses it entirely! Benzema nods back across the face of goal but Ajax clear. The goalkeeper breathes a mighty sigh of relief.
Real substitution: Asensio on, Vinicius off. The teenager suffered an injury. That’s the second enforced substitution from Real. It’s all going bits up for them.
35 min: Real simply can’t cope with Ajax at the back! The visitors are too nimble and too nifty and Real are constantly caught when they try to play their way out from the back. Courtois has just had to tip a shot around the post from Neres to stop Ajax from increasing their lead.
34 min: Ajax are looking comfortable. This has a distinct whiff of 1995 about it. Having said that, the way Ajax are playing, they could yet surpass the 2-0 victory that Litmanen, Davids & Co. sashayed to back then.
32 min: Vinicius charges down the left again and blasts into the sidenetting from a near-impossible angle.
31 min: Neres threatens to embarrass Real again on the counter, so Carvajal gives him a boot to make him stop. That’s the most deserved yellow card you’ll see today, especially as Ramos isn’t on the pitch … because he got himself suspended to ensure he’d be available for the quarter-final. D’oh!
Real substitution: Bale on, Vazquez off. In their hour of need, Real fans cheer the Welshman on to the pitch. Fickle lot, aren’t they?
29 min: Gareth Bale is has warmed up and removed his top. It looks like he’s about to come on to replace Vazquez, who seems to have picked up an injury. Wouldn’t it be a rum thing if, after those boos at the weekend, Bale sprang to Real’s rescue now? “Why do I get the feeling that Ajax could be 0-4 with 5 mins to go and Madrid would still find a way,” wonders Paul Fitzgerald.
27 min: Vinicius’ speed is troubling Mazroui down the left, so much so that the defender has just got a booking for pulling hi down. He’ll miss the first leg of the quarter-final if Ajax hold on and advance. I say ‘hold on’, but they’re looking at least as likely as Real to score the next goal.
26 min: With a body feint and a neat turn, De Jong makes fools of two Real players in midfield. He’s endearing himself more to Barcelona fans every time he gets possession.
24 min: Onano makes a save from Benzema after a strong break down the left by Vinicius. Varane commits a foul from the ensuing corner.
22 min: After a botched Real corner, Ajax launch forward. Tadic produces another fine pass, bisecting the very exposed Real defence. Suddenly Neres is bearing down on goal! He tries to lob the out-rushing Courtois from 15 yards, but his shot drops a couple of yards wide.
GOAL! Real 0-2 Ajax (Neres 18) (Agg: 2:3)
What a lovely goal! And what a sensation we have in the making here! Tadic did superbly in the build-up, holding off one opponents before pirouetting past Casemiro and nudging a perfect pass through to Neres, who sidesteps the advancing Courtois and clips the ball into the empty net! The three-in-a-row European champions are on the ropes!
16 min: Benzema tries to slip a pass through to Vinicius as Real break. The teenager’s control is sloppy but he’s fortunate that the ball ricochets out of De Ligt for a corner
14 min: Patient play by Real culminates with a deliciously subtle tee-up by Modric for Kroos, whose 20-yard shot is an affront to what went before it. Way, way wide.
12 min: Two outrageous pieces of skill – first by De Jong and then by Neres- elicit gasps of admiration from the home fans (and possibly of envy, given that De Jong is on his way to Barcelona). But Neres then overruns the ball on the left. Lucky for Carvajal, who was flummoxed by the winger’s trickery.
9 min: The home crowd are staying with their team for the moment. And their try to repay them with a lovely intricate move. It takes a wonderful tackle by De Ligt near the penalty spot to prevent Vazquez from getting off a shot.
7 min: The goal originated in loose play on the let by Real. Tadic nicked the ball and dashed forward before teeing up Ziyech, who guided a low first-time left-footed shot into the bottom corner. The Champions League holders are in deep trouble even if they’re still in front thanks to their two away goals.
GOAL! Real 0-1 Ajax (Ziyech 7) (agg: 2-2)
There goes Real’s fine plans to settle their nerves! Ajax have the early goal thanks to a marvellous composed finish by Ziyech following sloppiness by Real!
4 min: A brilliant cross from wide on the right by Vazquez. Varane, who had stayed forward after Real’s corner was cleared, is free at the back post! He sends a powerful header from six yards … against the crossbar!
4 min: Benzema does well to win a corner on the left and gestures at the crowd to crank the volume up even higher. Real are deadset on nabbing an early goal here.
3 min: Real have made a commending start, very much on the front foot. But Ajax have kept them at bay so far.
2 min: Benzema collects a throw-in on the right wing and tries to barrel his way into the box, but De Jong does well to get his body between the Frenchman and the ball before clearing.
The last time Real Madrid fell at this stage of the competition was in 2010, when they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Lyon. The year before that they were turfed out 5-0 by Liverpool. Since then, though, they’ve always reached at least the semi-final and have been in four of the last five finals, winning the last three. So what Ajax are trying to do today is not just overturn a deficit but terminate an era.
The teams are limbering up on the pitch Ajax, whose fans are making a terrific racket, are wearing black and gold away shirts. Real are dressed as you knew they would be.
Ajax go with the same that started in the first leg, while Real make two alterations, and not only because of Sergio Ramos’s invited suspension. Ramos is replaced by Varane. In the other change, Lucas Vazques starts. which means Bale is back on the bench. Let’s see how he’s welcomed if he gets on.
Real: Courtois; Carvajal, Nacho, Varane, Reguilon; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Lucas Vazquez, Benzema, Vinicius
Subs: Navas, Vallejo, Bale, Marcelo, Valverde, Asensio, Ceballos
Ajax: Onana; Mazraoui, De Ligt, Blind, Tagliafico; Schöne, Van de Beek, De Jong; Ziyech, Tadic, Neres
Subs: Varela, Veltman, Sinkgraven, Huntelaar, Labyad, Dolbert, De Wit
Ref: F Brych (Ger)
The story so far …
A team that won 2-1 in the away leg should have a glide in their stride going into the return match, but Real are a-wobblin’. They know they were a trifle jammy to make it out of Amsterdam with a win in the first leg match and they’ve lost three of their four games since then while being dumped out of their domestic cup and effectively out of the Spanish title race, too. They’re struggling to score freely and their fans are lobbying scorn at their players, even the ones that seldom play, most particularly Gareth Bale. So they’re a club under serious pressure. If Ajax, who outplayed them for stretches in the first leg, were to land an early blow on their hosts today, then we know how the Bernabeu not-so-faithful would react; but how would Real’s players respond? That’s what the neutrals among us would like to find out. So come on, Ajax! (OK, that didn’t sound very neutral). The prospect of the winners of the last three Champions Leagues (and semi-finalists in each of the last eight seasons) being eliminated at the last 16 stages would surely inspire a spectacular fightback or a monumental collapse. So come on, Ajax, land that early blow!
But are Ajax really good enough to do that? Well they’ve been scoring with abandon since the first leg, plundering 13 goals in three matches, albeit not against the likes of Barcelona (but a 3-0 win at Feyenoord will never be sniffed at by Ajax fans). And they’ve got some of the most exciting young talents in Europe, from goalkeeper Andre Onana and defender Mathias De Light to midfielder Frankie de Jong (who’ll join Barcelona in the summer) and the 25-year-old forward Hakim Ziyech. That might not make them quite as gifted as the Ajax team who put on an unforgettable demonstration on this ground in 1995 but, given Real’s current woes, another 2-0 away win is not out of the question, though it is unlikely. Let’s be having you!