Another day, another unbelievable, three-goal comeback in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinals.
Tottenham Hotspur went from 1-0 down after the first leg against Ajax, to 3-0 down at halftime of the second leg, to level at 3-3 and through to the the final on June 1 in Madrid on away goals. Lucas Moura scored all three of Tottenham’s goals, including the tie-winner as the literal final second on the clock ticked away to read 95:00.
Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will face the Liverpool side that overturned a 3-0 deficit to Barcelona at Anfield on Tuesday.
It’s the first time Tottenham Hotspur have ever reached the final of Europe’s premier competition.
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Ajax began the second leg exactly as they started — and finished — the first leg: on the front foot and causing Tottenham problems. Dusan Tadic forced Hugo Lloris into a stellar, full-stretch save in the 4th minute. It was the ensuing corner kick, however, that broke Spurs’ back. Matthijs de Ligt was lost in the shuffle of Spurs’ marking assignments and flicked a perfectly placed header inside Lloris’ right-hand post to make it 1-0 on the day and 2-0 on aggregate.
Spurs went close to pulling a goal back with two chances in the 23rd minute. First, Dele Alli slipped a pass past three defenders to send Son Heung-min through on goal, but Spurs’ star man couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to produce a stronger, better placed effort. Seconds later, Spurs connected a series of passes and got the ball into the box, where it fell to Christian Eriksen at the edge of the box. His left-footed shot had more behind it, but was hit into the waiting arms of Andre Onana.
Ajax’s second goal came in the 35th minute, they won the ball near midfield and broke out in a three-on-three counter-attack. Hakim Ziyech began left of Tadic, and that’s the option he chose. Tadic ran at Toby Aldeweireld until he hit the ground near the six-yard box, and Ziyech unleashed a missile into the side netting that Lloris had no chance of saving.
Ajax welcomed Spurs to take the initiative and enjoy plenty of possession in the second half. That’s when things got really interesting, and
Spurs’ Lucas Moura’s desperate comeback began.
Alli slipped another one of those through balls in behind to make an even better one-on-one chance for Moura in the 55th minute. The Brazilian finished with a cool head for 3-1. Four minutes later, Fernando Llorente couldn’t convert from point-blank range, but fortunately for him, Moura wasn’t far away and ready to curl the ball home… after a bit of chaos and close-control dribbling.
Ziyech had Ajax’s best chance to restore the two-goal lead they so desperately needed in the 79th minute, but his left-footed strike from the edge of the box crashed off the front side of Lloris’ left-hand post.
Eight minutes later, two more chance(s) came for Spurs… and went in heartbreaking, soul-crushing fashion. Jan Vertonghen, completely unmarked at the top of the six, put his head on the ball and had Onana beaten, if only his header was a couple inches lower. Crossbar. The rebound fell to Vertonghen, though, with Onana scrambling. His follow-up effort was kept out by a sea of bodies on the goal line.
With 94:54 on the clock, Moussa Sissoko booted the ball forward from midfield. With 94:58 on the clock, the ball fell to Dele Alli atop the box, courtesy of Llorente. As the clock struck 95:00, Moura latched onto a pass from Alli and placed it ever so precisely in the corner to break more than 50,000 hearts inside the Amsterdam Arena.