The five defining moments that shaped Spurs’ quest for Champions League glory
Like the vast majority of football fans, it’s still difficult to fathom how Tottenham Hotspur managed to squeeze their way past Ajax and into the final of the Champions League. The semi-final clash between this season’s underdogs generated arguably the greatest comeback the competition has ever seen, as a second-half turnaround at the Johan Cruyff Arena stunned the Dutch outfit.
Prior to the extraordinary scenes in Amsterdam, Spurs have lit up the Champions League this season with some stunning performances that will live long in the memory. Most neutrals – and even the Tottenham faithful – were perhaps wincing as they were drawn in the ‘group of death’ alongside Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven. But it wasn’t to deter Spurs on their journey to Madrid, so let’s take a look at five defining moments that have seen them make the Spanish capital to face Liverpool.
Nick Viergever’s left foot
Back in December, Spurs’ chances of qualifying from their group were hanging by a thread going into their last game away at Barcelona. The Spanish giants were already home and dry and the North Londoners needed to match or better Inter’s result against PSV.
Step forward Nick Viergever’s left foot, whose unbelievable last ditch tackle thwarted Mauro Icardi from putting the Italian side through but the defender’s heroics in stoppage time ensured the game finished 1-1. Lucas Moura managed to score an 85th minute equaliser at the Camp Nou to ensure Tottenham progressed. Just.
Sergio Agüero penalty miss
After the madness that ensued at the Etihad Stadium, it’s easy to forget that Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero fluffed his lines with a first-half penalty miss at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the first leg.
Traditionally, Agüero has been the bane of Tottenham defenders ever since moving to England in 2011. However, his luck was out after 'keeper Hugo Lloris brilliantly saved Agüero’s spot-kick with just 11 minutes of the game gone. If he’d have scored, the outcome could have been very different, but the penalty itself was a harsh decision, so justice was done.
Raheem Sterling denied by VAR
Every so often, the Champions League throws up some of the most bonkers games in club football and Spurs’ quarter-final second leg will be regarded as just that. Their 4-3 loss to City on the night didn’t really justify everything that went on at the Etihad.
City led, then Spurs scored two vital away goals before City put themselves in the driving seat after taking a 4-2 lead. Step forward Fernando Llorente, who appeared to score using his hip/thigh and VAR awarded the goal in Spurs’ favour. VAR was to feature again at the death after Raheem Sterling appeared to put City through, but VAR determined Agüero was offside and the North Londoners were left in raptures at full-time.
David Neres hits the post
It’s fair to assume that Ajax have accumulated a lot of neutral fans following their exertions in the Champions League this season. The Dutch outfit had outclassed holders Real Madrid and a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Juventus in previous rounds, and it looked like Spurs were next on the hit list. The Lilywhites got off to a terrible start in the first leg, conceding after just 15 minutes and were unable to string two passes together.
As the game tittered towards a close, de Godenzonen had the perfect chance to put the game and potentially the tie to bed but David Neres struck the post after a slick move. It wasn’t the easiest chance to convert for the Brazilian but had he snuck it inside the post, a 2-0 away victory would have surely seen them progress to the final in Madrid.
Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura
It’s somewhat unfair to single out just two players after the whole squad have arguably over-performed this season, but the efforts of Heung-min Son and the heroic Lucas Moura need worldwide recognition. Talisman Harry Kane suffered an ankle injury during Spurs’ quarter-final first leg win over City which meant Son and Moura needed to step up.
And that’s exactly what the duo did with minimal fuss. Son was certainly the hero against the Citizens after he notched three goals across both games, whereas Moura’s treble in Amsterdam will go down in Tottenham folklore. Trailing 2-0 and seemingly out, the Brazilian earned his crust with a second-half hat-trick to break Ajax’s hearts and send the Lilywhites into June’s final. Fancy Spurs to do it? Check out all the available Tottenham Liverpool Betfair markets right now.
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