Real Madrid Sent Packing


The exit of title holders Real Madrid was the major story coming out of the midweek action in the UEFA Champions League, while Manchester United completed a historic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain.

Real looked strong favourites to advance into the quarterfinal and keep up their hunt for a fourth straight European crown, as they entered their home clash with Ajax enjoying a 2-1 aggregate lead. But over the next 90 minutes, the Spanish giants were torn apart by a younger, hungrier team and ended up on the wrong side of a 4-1 (5-3 on aggregate) score line.

Their shocking exit from the Champions League followed within days of back-to-back losses against Barcelona which put them out of the Copa del Rey and La Liga title race, meaning manager Santiago Solari is surely set for the axe sooner rather than later.

As for Ajax and their wonderful showing, manager Erik ten Hag labelled it “pretty close to perfection”. He added, “Everything was right, we won over two matches and we were able to play football today, we showed that we have a very good team.

“Dusan Tadic was a great target man and made a nice goal but I do not want to specifically highlight one player, the whole team was fantastic, and we have to build on that. A number of experts questioned this, but this is historic.”

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Tuesday night saw Tottenham Hotspur weather a first-half siege from Borussia Dortmund before running out 1-0 winners to secure a 4-0 overall triumph, while Wednesday’s matches were headlined by a historic win for Manchester United.

The Red Devils became the first team in the competition’s history to advance after having lost the first leg of a knockout match at home by two or more goals. Romelu Lukaku scored twice in the first half, before a controversial late penalty from Marcus Rashford secured a 3-1 win away to Paris Saint-Germain and progression for the English side on away goals.

The other tie on Wednesday went to extra time, as Porto claimed a 3-1 win (4-3 on aggregate) to eliminate Roma from the competition.

The Champions League will complete its last 16 ties with four further second-leg matches next midweek, March 12-13. First up, Manchester City are expected to ease past Schalke as they enter their home leg with a 3-2 advantage, while Juventus have a mountain to claim as they look to break down Atletico Madrid’s resilient defence and recover from a 2-0 defeat in the Spanish capital last month.

Wednesday’s games see Barcelona and Bayern Munich looking to make the most of home advantage as they host Olympique Lyon and Liverpool respectively. Both first leg games ended goalless.