Tottenham Hotspur put up a virtuoso second half display against Ajax Amsterdam to book their place in the 2019 UEFA Champions League final after trailing 3 – 0 down at the end of the first half of the second leg in Amsterdam.
Goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech appeared to have sealed the tie for Ajax, most discerning spectators felt it would take a miracle for Tottenham to come back into the match.
And indeed, what followed was miraculous. It took a hat trick from Brazilian Lucas Muora (all goals scored with his weaker left foot) for the London club to eclipse Ajax’s 3 – 0 lead.
After trailing 2 – 0 on the night at half time, Spurs came into the second half with a turbo-charged zeal, thanks to a tactical change by Coach Mauricio Pochettino, who replaced Victor Wanyama (a defensive midfielder) with Illoriente – a striker.
Tottenham scored their first goal through Muora who latched onto a ball that Dele Alli was trying to control on the edge of the 18-yard box, to finish coolly with his weaker left foot.
The Brazilian got his brace within a few minutes when Illoriente’s point blank shot was splendidly saved by Ajax goalkeeper. The rebound led to a goal-mouth scramble but Muora seized control of the ball with deft footwork before finishing with his left foot again to the bottom right of the goal.
With the goal and Tottenham drawing level at 2 – 2, Ajax tried to fight back to retake the lead. A powerful shot from Hakin Ziyech drew a fine save from Hugo Lloris in goal for Tottenham.
Ajax appeared in disarray, and on the 94th minute, deep into injury time, the unbelievable happened: the Brazilian completed his hat trick, giving Tottenham a 3 – 2 away win (3 – 3 aggregate but winning on away-goal rule) which sent his team to an incredible Champion’s League final for the first time in their history.
It will be an all-England final as Liverpool who beat Barcelona in the first semi-final are already waiting for the London club for the June 1, showpiece in Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, Spain. Liverpool had had pulled chestnuts from fire by cancelling a 3 – 0 deficit in the first leg against Barcelona in Spain to win 4 -0 (4 – 3 on aggregate) at Anfield on Tuesday night.
Tottenham have only beaten Liverpool once in their last 17 meetings.