Ajax Amsterdam could be the next champions of the glamorous UEFA Champions League if history is anything to go by. The Dutch side defeated defending champions, Real Madrid 4-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu to qualify for the quarter-final in a 5-3 aggregate.
The defending champions defeated Ajax 2-1 in the first leg. Karim Benzema blasted into the top corner to give the Spaniards the lead on the 60th minute. But, 15 minutes later, Hakim Ziyech leveled from 10 yards. Any flame of hope entertained by the home side was quickly extinguished as the defending champions were not done yet. They scored the winner through Marco Asensio.
Trailing 1-2 to the defending champions into the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ajax were not given much chance of progressing. But, when the chips were down, the Dutch side outclassed their highly rated hosts.
Hakim Ziyech continued from where he stopped in the first leg, scoring for the visitors on the seventh minute. David Neres made it two on the 18th minute. At this point, the defending champions would have to score two goals to qualify, yet the first half ended with Ajax leading 2-0 and 3-2 on aggregate.
On the 62nd minute, Dusan Tadic, who provided assists for the two first-half goals, scored the third goal from the edge of the area. No wonder he emerged man of the match.
Marco Asensio pulled one back for the home side, but any hope of a comeback was killed two minutes later when Lasse Schone put the icing on the cake with Ajax’ fourth goal of the night.
Ajax victory did not only give them a quarter-final ticket it repeated a history that took place 46 years ago, when they defeated Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Dutch side eventually won the European Cup as the UEFA Champions League was called then.
It was the 1972/73 European Cup season; Ajax was paired against Real Madrid in the semi-finals. The first leg took place on April 11 at the De Meer Stadion in Amsterdam. The home side coached by Stefan Kovacs defeated Real Madrid 2-1.
Two weeks later, Ajax storm Madrid the capital of Spain for the second leg. As the defending champions, a lot was expected from them, and they did not disappoint. A lone goal by Gerardus Muhren was all the Dutch side needed to cruise into the finals on a 3-1 aggregate.
In the final, they defeated Juventus by a lone goal.
Forty-six years later, Ajax went back to the Bernabeu to post a resounding victory over Real Madrid. Could this be another year that Ajax will lift the UEFA Champions League, which they last won in 1995?
There is still a long way to go, but history could repeat itself and if it does, watch out for Ajax Amsterdam.
By Delight Caesar
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