Scintillating Ajax stunned 13-time European champions Real Madrid at the Bernabeu to progress from a Champions League knockout tie for the first time in 22 years.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Erik ten Hag’s side stormed into an aggregate lead after just 18 minutes through forwards Hakim Ziyech and David Neres.
The electric Dusan Tadic, provider of his side’s first two goals, then added a brilliant third as he whipped an effort into the top corner from the edge of the area.
Chasing a fourth consecutive Champions League triumph, Real looked to have gained a lifeline when Marco Asensio scored with 20 minutes remaining.
But Ajax midfielder Lasse Schone scored a spectacular free-kick just two minutes later to leave Santiago Solari’s side requiring three goals to progress.
Gareth Bale, jeered by fans in Saturday’s defeat by Barcelona, was dropped by Solari but struck the post after emerging as a 29th-minute substitute.
Real saw their miserable night compounded as Nacho was sent off in injury time for a second bookable offence, as Ajax became the first team to overturn a 2-1 first-leg home defeat in the Champions League.
Ajax come of age in superb Bernabeu display
This was a performance of sheer quality by a young Ajax side who arrived at the home of the European champions with no fear as they danced through to the quarter-finals.
A last-16 meeting with Real Madrid was the club’s first knockout tie in 13 years, and with six of their starting side aged 22 and under, there is the sense something special could be achieved this season – although the challenge of holding on to those players when the next transfer window opens will be significant.
The visitors needed at least two goals in Madrid and learned from their wastefulness in the first leg to silence the home support inside 18 minutes.
Ajax had to weather early pressure, but Ziyech’s fine finish came as a powerful blow to their bewildered hosts.
Tadic, almost unrecognisable from his Southampton days, produced a moment of excellence to set up Neres before seemingly putting the tie out of reach with a finish that epitomised his performance.
There was a long wait before the video assistant referee eventually confirmed Noussair Mazraoui had managed to keep the ball in play during the build up to Tadic’s goal – as nervous tension paved the way for unbridled joy in the away end.
Barcelona-bound Frenkie de Jong shone brightly too – with his pending £65m move to La Liga already a concern for Real, but it was fellow midfielder Schone who added the deserved gloss just as Real may have sensed hope.
Ajax could have had even more as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was forced to stop efforts from Donny van de Beek and Tadic, while the impressive Matthijs de Ligt stood firm alongside Daley Blind under periods of pressure.
The visitors more than held their own against the holders, and could play a huge part in the final stages of this season’s competition should they maintain such a devastating level of performance.