Ajax Amsterdam’s dream run in the Champions League ended in painful fashion as Tottenham Hotspur produced one of the most improbable comebacks in the history to level the tie 3-3 and emerge victorious on away goals.
In a moment of sheer frenzy, Spurs found the dramatic winner in the last minute of the injury time to send them to a European final for the first time ever.
Brazilian Lucas Moura stole a one man show in Amsterdam’s iconic Johan Cryff Arena with a massive hat-trick that gave 100 colours for an English dream while it shattered the dreams of a young Dutch side who fought and won against the most decorated sides in the competition.
The night’s hot favourites who overcame mighty Real Madrid and Juventus in previous phases were all but closing in to a European final after 23 years when they led 2-0 in the first half of the second leg at home.
The 19 year old captain Matthijs de Light inflicted the first blow with a towering header inside six minutes to indicate that they are starting from where they stopped in London.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were vulnerable at times as the fast and furious play of Ajax troubled them as expected.
Without the injured super star Harry Kane but with Son Heung-min back from a suspension, Spurs grappled with the reality that they have to wake up if they have to stand a chance in the tie which was overruled by many by the time.
Son had a cross hit the near post in response before Ajax returned with a quick move involving Dusan Tadic whose pass found Hakim Ziyech who added the second of the night with a sweeping finish 10 minutes before the break to put the hosts in firm controll.
But the unexpected things unfolded inside a blistering five minutes soon after the break where Moura found the net twice, first with a composed finish and later with a well worked low strike from the box.
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The vociferous home supporters started to feel the pressure despite Ajax came close to strike again. Spurs took all the energy and rallied pummeling Ajax in the closing stages. Finally the crowd was completely silenced in the blink of an eye in possibly the last move of the match.
Lucas did the final act. In a last attempt, the former PSG man sent a low shot beyond the diving Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana to complete the heroics triggering plenty of emotional moments in the Dutch capital.
The Ajax players slumped to the turf in shock, their fans stunned, as their beautiful campaign and progress of months went into ashes within a cursed minute that sent the Spurs to the dream heights.
Moura was folded by his teammates in ecstasy. Tottenham’s coaching staff and substitutes raced to the field to join them. The most proud man, Pochettino was in tears, he fell to the ground in utter disbelief. Thus the most enthralling contest of the season’s Champions League became history.
Eric Ten Hag’s prodigious Ajax squad will now look to settle with a domestic crown whilr Pochettino’s boys will take on domestic rivals Liverpool who stunned Barcelona in similar fashion yester night in Madrid on June 1.
” It’s amazing to describe with words,” The Argentine said after the match. “It’s an amazing feeling, I am so grateful to this group of players that for me are not heroes but are superheroes.
They never give up, the faith, the belief was amazing and I want to congratulate them. The players own the football and I am so proud to be their manager.”
Before that, they are back on action in the final day of English Premier League hosting Everton to settle a almost guaranteed top four finish.