Ajax 2, Tottenham Hotspur 3 | Aggregate 3-3 | Tottenham win on away goals
Raw emotion, raw courage and moments of disbelief.
It really had it all as Spurs’ “superheroes” clinched a nerve-shredding victory in a climactic scene straight out of Avengers: Endgame.
In the sixth minute of injury time, Brazilian Lucas Moura came up with an Iron Man moment when he completed his hat-trick and resurrected Tottenham’s Champions League dream in Amsterdam.
“I have said before that they are heroes … I think they are superheroes now,” a tearful Mauricio Pochettino, the Spurs manager, told a media conference. “To have brought the club to the final of the Champions League is very close to a miracle.”
He was certainly not wrong.
Just 24 hours after Liverpool’s “Miracle at Anfield” and the 4-0 thumping of Barcelona, Tottenham turned in an out-of-this-world performance.
At half-time, the English Premier League club were 2-0 down to Ajax in the second leg after goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech. Overall, the situation was desperate with the Dutch masters leading 3-0 on aggregate after their crucial 1-0 victory in London a week ago from the first leg.
Yet cometh the hour, cometh the Superman. First, Lucas gave Spurs hope in the 55th minute. He then added a second goal moments later before grabbing a third in the 96th minute to complete Tottenham’s mission impossible.
“It is one of the most important nights in my life,” Pochettino, who could not stop crying with joy, said. “The most important thing is to congratulate my players. They did a great job.”
Well, that was an understatement. Apart from Lucas, South Korean star Son Heung-min literally ran himself into the ground and was unlucky not to score in the first half when he hit a post.
The beam on his face after a night of pure football magic was priceless, as were Lucas’ comments after he set up a date with Liverpool in the Champions League Final in Madrid on June 1.
“Football gives us moments like this that we cannot imagine,” he said. “We need to enjoy it. Look at me – it’s the best moment in my life, my career.”
For Ajax’s swashbuckling young team, it was probably their worst.
Coach Erik ten Hag summed up the mood perfectly after his side were applauded off the pitch by supporters openly crying in bitter disappointment.
“I told the players it is very hard to find the right words in a moment like this and that football is cruel,” he said. “We have to endure the cruel side tonight but we have to go on.”
But, perhaps, the final words should go to Pochettino.
“The emotion is amazing, thank you football,” the 47-year-old said his voice filled with passion and his eyes filled with tears. “Thank you football – this type of emotion without football is not possible.
“Thank you to everyone who has believed in us. To describe this in words is difficult,” he added.
So was the previous 90 minutes, and the march of the “superheroes.”