Gary Lineker had little sympathy for Thibaut Courtois as Real Madrid were dumped out of the Champions League at the hands of Ajax. Ajax were trailing 2-1 from the first leg but produced an outstanding display at the Bernabeu and progressed through to the quarter-finals with a shock 5-3 aggregate victory.
Hakim Ziyech and David Neres got Ajax off to the perfect start with a pair of first-half goals and Dusan Tadic piled the pressure on Madrid with a stunning 62nd-minute strike. Madrid were handed a lifeline with 20 minutes remaining as Marco Asensio pulled a goal back but Lasse Schone put the Dutch visitors out of sight with a spectacular long-range free-kick.
While Courtois was praised for denying Donny van de Beek and Tadic from increasing the deficit, the goalkeeper’s inability to deal with Schone’s looping free-kick was met with criticism. Courtois mocked Jordan Pickford for being too short to stop Adnan Januzaj’s strike as England lost to Belgium at last summer’s World Cup – and Lineker used his own words against him on Tuesday evening. ‘4-1 now to Ajax. Crazy game and crazy goal from Schoene,’ the former England striker tweeted. ‘If Courtois was a little taller he might have saved it.’
Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari insisted he was not considering quitting in the wake of the defeat. ‘I didn’t come here to give up,’ the Argentinian said after the final whistle. ‘The season is difficult, but we are here to show our heart and character in difficult moments. ‘Easy moments are easy for everyone, you can climb up and surf them, but difficult moments you have to show bravery.’