There will be an all-English final in the Champions League, after Tottenham were unable astonishingly turned things around to knock out Ajax, winning 3-2 on the night and going through on away goals, to set up a meeting with Liverpool in three weeks time.
There was hope that Tottenham would emulate Liverpool’s heroics against Barcelona with a second-leg remontada of their own, with influential midfielder Moussa Sissoko returning to the starting eleven, and Son Heung-min back from the suspension he served last week, while Jan Verthonghen – who served was forced off in the first leg with a head injury – was able to play with a face mask.
But it was a nightmare start in Amsterdam for Spurs. They travelled to the Dutch capital a goal down in the tie, and their task was made even more difficult when Ajax’s 19-year-old captain Matthijs De Ligt leapt to head in a corner after six minutes, a carbon copy of the goal he scored to knock out Juventus in the last round.
The visitors grew into the game and fashioned a few half-chances in response to Ajax’s early opener, but their task became even more difficult when De Beek played in Tadic and his cutback was whipped into the bottom corner by Hakim Ziyech after 36 minutes.
At times before the break it looked like they lacked the energy and belief needed to mount a comeback. But when Lucas Moura scored after 55 minutes, finishing a breakaway after being set up by Dele Alli, there was a renewed vigour to Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
And all the momentum was with them when the Brazilian scored his second four minutes later, equalising on the night and bringing them just one more away goal away from the final.
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The quick brace set up a madcap, breathless finale, with both teams fashioning chances at either end. Ziyech, in particular, had good opportunities and Tottenham hearts were in mouths when he struck the post 12 minutes before full-time.
At the other end, it looked at times like Ajax were holding on, camping in their own box. Verthonghen was given a golden chance to score a famous winner when the ball deflected to him just outside the six-yard box, but he mistimed his header.
Then, in the dying moments of injury time, Moura broke through to give Tottenham the lead and send them through to the final.