Ajax fans' fireworks disrupt Real Madrid ahead of Champions League tie

Pedja Mijatovic

The former Chelsea keeper admitted that while it is yet to be perfected, the positives outweigh the negatives, praising its use while speaking in his press conference ahead of Madrid's last 16 first leg tie against Ajax on Wednesday.

"He's shown his development as a player", Madrid coach Santiago Solari said. "Not only the goal, which of course was very important for us".

Their form domestically has also dipped since they resumed after the winter break, with Erik ten Hag's team losing 6-2 at rivals Feyenoord last month.

Real Madrid advanced to the Round of 16 after finishing first in Group G, while Ajax advanced to the Round of 16 after finishing second in Group E.

"It's up to us to pick ourselves up", said the Ajax boss. We're looking forward to it, we're confident we can take them on.

Real went into the match brimming with confidence from a run of six wins and one draw in its last seven matches.

The controversial decision meant Real went in at half-time on level terms with all three goals coming in the second half.

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Ajax, a four-time European champion that last won the title in 1995, looked to have taken the lead only to have VAR rule out Nicolas Tagliafico's 37th minute header because Dusan Tadic was in an offside position and impeding Courtois.

Those two games highlighted the question Solari has to resolve in Holland: against Barcelona he played the experienced Marcelo at left back and watched as Barca picked on the Brazilian time and again, exposing his poor positioning and clearly marking him as the weak link in the Madrid defense.

Benzema was not to be denied on the hour mark as the Frenchman rifled the ball into the top corner after some brilliant work by Vinicius Junior in the build-up.

Ajax got the goal their play deserved with 15 minutes remaining as Ziyech side-footed home after a sweeping move, latching on to a delivery from David Neres on the left.

Real Madrid have been in superb form in recent weeks but they are still behind FC Barcelona in the La Liga table, trailing the leaders by six points after 23 games.

Tadic then held off Sergio Ramos to fire in a shot that hit the post, and Ziyech missed another one-on-one chance with Courtois as Ajax's incisive passing stretched the visitors.

Real created little in the first half.

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