Win at Madrid 'pretty close to perfection', beams Ajax boss Ten Hag

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The Ajax boss paid tribute to a performance he "enjoyed watching immensely" as they dismantled Real Madrid

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag labelled his side's 4-1 win over Real Madrid as "pretty close to perfection" as they dumped the Champions League holders out of the competition.

The Dutch side trailed 2-1 after the first leg of their last-16 tie in Amsterdam, but a sensational performance at the Santiago Bernabeu in the return fixture saw them through to the quarter-finals and bring Real’s three-year grip on the trophy to a stunning end.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres scored inside the first 20 minutes to put the Eredivisie side in front on aggregate.

Former Southampton forward Dusan Tadic – brilliant in creating the first two goals – then added a third for Ajax shortly after the hour mark.

Marco Asensio brought Real Madrid back into the game but that was swiftly followed by a spectacular Lasse Schone free-kick, allowing Ajax to coast to a famous 5-3 aggregate victory that had boss Ten Hag purring.

"This was pretty close to perfection," he told Veronica TV after the game. "Over the two matches, we definitely deserved to progress to the next round. I enjoyed watching my team immensely this evening.”

The Dutch champions, four-time winners of the competition, hadn’t featured in the knockout stages of the Champions League for 13 years.

But their thrilling victory in the Spanish capital means they go through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2003, where they were beaten by eventual winners Milan.

Speaking about Ajax’s ambitions for the rest of the competition, Ten Hag refused to put a limit on what they could achieve this campaign.

"Let's not forget that we started in the qualifying rounds. But we are still in the running for three prizes and we want to win them all,” he added.

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"I have no influence on the draw, so I'm not going to think about it. All the possible opponents are big teams - but so were Real Madrid."

Next up for Ajax is a return to Eredivisie action against Fortuna Sittard at Johan Cruyff Arena on Sunday.

Ten Hag’s side are currently second in the table, five points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven, with a game in hand.

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