Nicolas Tagliafico said Ajax steamrollered Real Madrid in the opening 20 minutes of Tuesday’s incredible 4-1 Champions League victory at the Bernabeu.
Trailing 2-1 following the opening leg of the round-of-16 tie, Ajax seized a 2-0 second-leg advantage after just 18 minutes thanks to goals from Hakim Ziyech and David Neres and went on to inflict the worst home defeat in Madrid’s European history.
“Our idea was to score and try to qualify but we never thought we could score two goals so fast,” Tagliafico told Cadena Cope radio. “We slapped Real Madrid in the opening 20 minutes.”
Madrid, without suspended captain Sergio Ramos, struggled defensively and two more goals in the second half, from Dusan Tadic and Lasse Schone, condemned Los Blancos to a crushing defeat, and a 5-3 aggregate exit.
“Sergio Ramos is a pillar in Madrid’s defence but we played a perfect game,” Tagliafico said.
Tadic scored one and set up two more in a virtuoso display for the Eredivisie outfit.
“Tadic always stays half an hour more in every training session to practice his dribbling and it went well against Madrid,” Tagliafico added.
Captain Matthijs de Ligt is confident his club, who have won Europe’s elite club competition four times, can continue to make an impact in this season’s competition.
Ajax have reached the quarterfinals for the first time in 16 years, and they have not made the final four since 1997.
“We will see how far we go but we are certainly not finished yet,” De Ligt told Dutch reporters.
“We made it difficult for Bayern Munich,” he said of Ajax’s performance in the group phase. “And now we’ve knocked Real Madrid out.
“It was no surprise to us. Real give a lot of room away and if you are prepared to play football, you know you can make it very difficult for them.
“Were we at our best? I think so, otherwise you don’t beat a team like Real Madrid. We knew it would be difficult but that there would also be opportunities.”
Coach Erik ten Hag said the performance had been “as close to perfection as you can get” and that his young Ajax side deserved to progress.
“Everything worked for us but we forced that ourselves,” he said. “I think that over the two matches we proved we were good enough to advance and it was with great class that we were able to show our qualities in Madrid.”