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Ajax v Spurs, 08.05.19

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
SEMI-FINAL (2nd leg)
WEDNESDAY 8TH MAY, 2019
AJAX AMSTERDAM 2(2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (0)
(Aggregate score 3-3. Spurs win on away goals)

Ajax scorers:-
De Ligt, 5
Ziyech, 35

Spurs scorer:-
Lucas Moura 55,59 90 (+6)

Attendance:- 52,641

Referee:- Felix Brych
Assistants:- Mark Borsch, Stefan Llupp
Fourth official:- Deniz Aytekin
VAR:- Bastian Dankert
Assistant VAR:- Marco Fritz
(All officials from Germany)

Teams:-
Ajax (4-2-3-1):- Onana; Mazraoui, De Ligt (Capt.), Blind, Tagliafico; Schone (sub Veltman, 60), de Jong; Tadic, van de Beek (sub Magallan, 90), Ziyech; Dolberg (sub Sinkgraven, 67)

Subs not used:- Varela; :De Wit; Huntelaar, Traore

Booked:- Dolberg (foul on Rose), Ziyech (foul on Rose), Onana (Time)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier (sub Lamela, 81), Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose (sub Davies, 82); Sissoko, Wanyama (sub Llorente, 46); Eriksen, Dele, Son; Lucas Moura

Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Dier, Foyth; Skipp

Booked:- Sissoko (foul on Tagliafico), Rose (handball)

Oh my word! That magical Moura moment!

Ajax - 08.05.19

When I previewed this game I fancied an away goals win for Spurs, predicting “two goals in Amsterdam”. Little did I realise the massive drama that awaited us as Lucas Moura carved his name in Spurs history with a magnificent hat-trick, and the fantastic 96th minute third goal which sealed a 3-2 win on the night and an away goals win in the tie. What with the brilliant four goal comeback by Liverpool the night before, this has been a fantastic week for football, and for Champions League football in particular. Thus Spurs will meet Liverpool in the Atletico Madrid “Wanda Metropolitano” stadium in the third all English European Final . Spurs have managed yet another “first” in their illustrious history by becoming the first English team to reach two such finals. Those being the 1972 UEFA Cup Final against Wolves and now Liverpool on June 1st. (Chelsea subsequently became the second team to reach such a final, as they beat Eintracht Frankfurt to reach the Europa League Final against Arsenal. That game will be played before the Champions League Final)

Lucas’s winning goal was celebrated with passion not just by the team, but by the substitutes in the corner beneath the Spurs fans. Harry Kane, who along with the also injured Davinson Sanchez, had travelled with the squad also took part in the celebrations. These took place at length after the game with great passion and emotion, with two-way adulation between the squad and the fans. More on those celebrations later.

Spurs fielded the team that was much anticipated, but Erik Lamela was present on the bench. Vertonghen was wearing a protective mask following his injury in last week’s game. Ajax had announced Neres in the team before the game, but as he was injured in the warm-up Dolberg took over and played in the striker role with Tadic moving to the flank. With de Beek once again just behind the front four Ajax were well equipped for their high pressing game. Ajax certainly racked up the atmosphere before kick off with masses of red and white flags and music.

Hugo Lloris was called upon within three minutes making a great save as he dived to his left to pish away Tadic’s deflected shot. Ajax took an early lead just into the fifth minute when captain De Ligt rose to head home the resulting corner, rising above Dele Alli’s challenge. Son responded with a run down the left flank then coming inside, hitting a shot which rebounded into play off the post. After 9 minutes Dele was on the ball approaching the Ajax area after a good pass by Wanyama, and skill by Lucas Moura as he turned and fed the ball to Dele. De Jong saw to it that Dele got no further with a great winning tackle. Sissoko took an early booking for a foul. After 22 minutes, skilful play down the left by Danny Rose, Eriksen and Dele led to a chance for Son whose shot was held by the keeper. I didn’t feel that our front four were making the best of their opportunities with the ball when it did come to them in the first half.

Dele passed to Lucas Moura, who took a bit of a nudge in the box, but gave Eriksen a shot which was held comfortably by Onana. Lucas spurned a chance after a corner from the left, hitting his shot well wide. After a rare loss of the ball by Sissoko, Tadic went on the attack versus Toby Alderweireld. Tadic won this little battle and hit a shot wide across the goalmouth.

Ajax had a second goal ten minutes before the break. It followed a good forward run in the middle by de Beek, who had scored the solitary goal in the first leg at White Hart Lane. De Beek fed the ball out to Tadic on the left and he passed inside to Ziyech who beat Lloris with his quickly taken shot across the goalmouth hitting the net to the left of Hugo. Spurs were now three down and had a lot of work on their hands. Liverpool had come back from such a deficit last night, but could Spurs do something similar? Danny Rose made a run in the centre after 41 minutes and gave “Sonny” a decent scoring chance towards the right of the area, but Son’s touch was not good enough.

Mauricio Pochettino went for boldness and passion in the second half, coupled with more than a little skill. Fernando Llorente came on for Wanyama at the break, with Eriksen falling back beside Sissoko. Llorente had one of his best games for Tottenham, winning loads of headers and playing on his team-mates with deft touches. In the early second half exchanges Spurs had plenty of possession but little in the way of end product. That would soon follow!

After 52 minutes, Sissoko brought the ball forward with typical power, and Danny Rose continued the move with a ball to Son. Son’s advance was stopped by Eriksen picked up the ball and crossed to the back of the area on the right where Dele Alli hit glorious half volley which was very well saved by Onana at his left post. Spurs had a goal back in the 55th minute following a good long ball by Rose picked up by Dele before a clever exchange in the middle before Lucas advanced on his own and beat the keeper low to his left. Lucas had a second goal minutes later. Trippier crossed hard and low, Llorente had a close range shot somehow saved by the keeper, wo just couldn’t quite hold the ball which eventually ran to Lucas who made room for himself inside the area to score and make it 2-2 on the night, and 2-3 on aggregate. This was “game on”!

There was exciting play and there were opportunities at either end in the remainder of this classic game. Llorente chased and won a ball but hit his shot over. Ajax had a corner at the other end and after De Ligt was blocked Daley Blind hit a shot over from outside the box. Llorente headed over a corner won through his efforts and those of Lucas Moura. Lloris batted away a cross after 70 minutes, then saved de Ligt’s shot from the right of the area. Llorente was continuing to show great touch at the other end, mastering Blind, teeing up Dele, who won a corner. Van de Beek had a shot blocked before Ziyech hit a shot which beat Hugo, but not his left post.

Pochettino made two last quick rolls of the dice. Lamela came on for Kieran Trippier, with Sissoko looking after the right side of defence, and Ben Davies replaced Danny Rose. Spurs were going all out for that crucial third goal, whilst Ajax were now trying to “manage” the game, whilst their fans bayed for every decision to be made in their favour. Spurs won a corner after a shot by Son, from which Vertonghen had a header hit the bar and his follow-up cleared off the line. Soon after that Son had a shot somehow miss the goal, as he fired from the left. It must have missed by a whisker.

Five minutes of added time were indicated. Lloris had to bat away another Ajax cross, and Onana tried to run down too much time getting booked for his trouble. The Ajax goalkeeper had made a rod for his own back as further time was added during which Lucas Moura scored his dramatic winner. This came after a long ball by Sissoko, which was fielded by Llorente, putting a foot up, touching it to Dele, who cleverly flicked the ball forward to Lucas Moura. Lucas moved forward then picked his spot, placing his shot well to the ,left of the beaten keeper. Lucas made one piece of history recently when he scored the first hat-trick in our new stadium against Huddersfield. Now he has a place in our Champions League history with this fantastic semi-final hat-trick and such a momentous winner.

Words aren’t enough really to convey the joy of the occasion. Those post-match celebrations came in three phases. Firstly the team and the coaches celebrated with the fans. I’ve since seen on TV that Pochettino shed plenty of tears of joy and true emotion. The second phase of the celebrations came when Pochettino initially approached the fans alone, before calling upon the rest of his coaching team to join him. Finally, the whole squad, staff and yes, even Chairman Daniel Levy were on the pitch in the corner beneath the travelling fans. Why, I think the squad even joined in with the “Tottenham playing on a Wednesday night, you play Thursdays because…..” Well, you know the rest, but it was sung for the rest of the evening before we left the stadium, on the metro and in the City Centre well into the night.

We’ll have a party on Sunday (hopefully with a win and perhaps even third place), and I am sure there will be a great atmosphere. Those of us in the Ajax Stadium, and those of you watching on TV around the world will remember Lucas Moura’s 96th minute winner for the rest of our days!

Now (well at least some 16,500 season ticket holders) will be trying to find a way to get to Madrid for the Champions League Final on Saturday June 1st 2019!

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