Santiago Solari vowed to fight on but the reign of Real Madrid in Europe is over and their season effectively is too after they were stunned by a 4-1 defeat at home to Ajax on Tuesday.
In seven days, Madrid have been knocked out of the Copa del Rey, LaLiga's title race and now the last 16 of the Champions League, the competition they had come to believe was their own.
They had won it three times in a row, four times in the last five years, while the last time Madrid failed to reach the quarter-finals was 2010, in Cristiano Ronaldo's first year at the club.
Ronaldo rescued them last season in the quarter-finals and then Gareth Bale won them the trophy, but the former is gone and the latter started on the bench here, dropped again by Solari.
Solari oversaw an improvement after Julen Lopetegui was sacked in November but his team, 12 points behind Barcelona in LaLiga, have watched their season unravel in a week.
Madrid president Florentino Perez is now faced with deciding whether it is worth keeping his coach until the end of the season, let alone beyond the summer.
"I did not come to the club in such a difficult moment to give up," Solari said afterwards.
He could have few complaints. Ajax were hard-done-by in the 2-1 first-leg defeat and dominant at the Santiago Bernabeu, their scintillating victory confirming a 5-3 win on aggregate and a place in the quarter-finals. On this evidence, they can go further.
Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put them two up at half-time and the excellent Dusan Tadic made it three before Marco Asensio gave Madrid hope. It lasted two minutes, as Lasse Schone sent a bending free-kick into the top corner before Nacho was sent off in injury-time.
"The week has been hard for us," said Nacho. "We have practically said goodbye to the league, the cup and today was like a final in the Champions League."
"I've never felt as sick as this, I don't know how to explain it," said Dani Carvajal.
Bale was on after 29 minutes for the injured Lucas Vazquez but hit the post and then missed two good chances. Sergio Ramos was in the stands, having earned a deliberate booking to clear a ban, believing this tie was already won.
Raphael Varane might have finished it within five minutes but headed onto the crossbar from six yards and instead Ajax took control.
Toni Kroos, poor all night, was caught in possession from a throw-in and Tadic skipped free down the right. He pulled back for Ziyech, who guided it with his left foot into the far corner.
Ajax were bouncing as Neres baffled Carvajal with a pirouette in the corner and then Tadic did the same, spinning around Casemiro in midfield before teeing up the second. Neres rounded Thibaut Courtois and chipped the ball home.
Vazquez and Vinicius Junior both left the field injured and in tears, the latter after an electric run forward. Bale came on, with Asensio, and raced down the left but his finish from the angle clipped the post.
The fans whistled at half-time and Madrid were no better after, creating chances but lacking composure and control. Karim Benzema shimmied past Ziyech but curled wide, only for Ajax to add a sumptuous, albeit controversial, third.
They worked it from right to left and then inside again, where Donny van de Beek shifted a last pass to Tadic, who whipped a sizzling shot into the top corner.
The cheers stopped as referee Felix Brych waited for VAR, with the ball seemingly out for a throw before Noussair Mazraoui slid to keep it in. The camera angle was unclear and the goal stood.
Madrid needed three in 24 minutes and then two in 20, as Asensio swept in Sergio Reguilon's cross to give them hope. Erik ten Hag was seconds from bringing Schone off but instead, his midfielder bent a free-kick into Courtois' top corner.
Frenkie de Jong put his first foot wrong in the 84th minute, gifting Luka Modric the ball in the area but Benzema slipped and the chance went begging. Nacho was sent off for a clash with Van de Beek and Madrid were in tatters.
Kane inspires Tottenham into quarters
Harry Kane fired Tottenham Hotspur into the Champions League quarter-finals as his winning goal at Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday's return leg sealed a 1-0 victory to wrap up a 4-0 aggregate success.
On Monday, Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino had demanded they "finish the job" after beating the Bundesliga leaders 3-0 in the first leg at Wembley.
His Spurs side delivered, soaking up everything Dortmund threw at them in a one-sided first half before Kane's goal just after the break killed off the hosts' spirited challenge.
"It's always difficult in these type of games, you don't know whether to defend or attack," said Kane, who singled out Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris for praise after a string of key saves.
"They had a few moments. In that first half we needed everyone, defenders blocking it, Hugo saving it, that's what Champions League is about - you need everybody."
This is the first time Tottenham are in the last eight of the Champions League since 2010/11 when they bowed out 5-0 on aggregate to Real Madrid.
Needing to score at least three goals, Dortmund packed their line-up with forwards as Mario Goetze, Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer - who have scored 30 goals between them - all started together for the first time this season.
Dortmund flew out of the traps, pounding the Spurs defence with 10 attempts in the first half alone, restricting the Londoners to a single Son Heung-min effort, and enjoying 70 percent possession.
"We have showed that we have the quality, we can build on the first-half performance, but we need to score goals," said Dortmund captain Reus.
The Germans harassed Spurs at every opportunity and had two clear chances in the opening 25 minutes as Alcacer fired just over, while Lloris snaffled a stinging Reus shot at the second attempt.
Tottenham's first real chance came with half an hour gone when Son got in behind his marker Marius Wolf and fired wide with the goal at his mercy.
Lloris then pulled off two saves at point-blank range before palming Goetze's shot over the bar shortly before the break.
Having defended doggedly, Spurs took the lead when Kane scored with his first chance and only his team's second of the game.
His run split the hosts' centre-backs, as he latched onto Moussa Sissoko's pass and curled his shot past Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki.
The video assistant referee confirmed Kane was on-side and his goal on 49 minutes subdued the crowd at Signal Iduna Park who had hoped for a miracle.
With the tempo having dropped, Spurs' Pochettino brought on Eric Dier, back from injury, to beef up the midfield in place of Harry Winks for the final 35 minutes.
Spurs seemed content to absorb Dortmund's attacks while countering on the few opportunities they had.
In a bid to boost flagging confidence, Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre brought on Chelsea-bound Christian Pulisic and Danish forward Jacob Bruun Larsen for the final half an hour.
With Reus tiring, unsurprisingly after four weeks out with a thigh injury, Thomas Delaney came on for the Dortmund skipper with 17 minutes left.
Sissoko attempted to win a late penalty and Kane put the ball into Dortmund's net but was flagged for offside as the game petered out and home fans started slipping away.
While Spurs go marching into the last eight, Dortmund can focus on trying to prevent Bayern Munich winning a seventh straight Bundesliga title with just goal difference currently separating the sides.
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Updated Date: Mar 06, 2019 08:05:53 IST