On this day in 2019: Lucas Moura’s hat-trick breaks Ajax’s hearts, as Tottenham Hotspur reach first Champions League final

It’s been three years since we saw Tottenham Hotspur’s miraculous comeback against Ajax in the 2019 Champions League semi-final second leg. The memories are still fresh. It is difficult to explain how the Tottenham team, which played badly in three halves of football, still managed to overcome a large deficit in the last 45 minutes of the semi-final. After losing the first leg 1–0 in London, Spurs had a big job to do in Amsterdam, but they looked out of the tie at the half-time break, as the home side took a comfortable 2–0 lead. Had taken But an inspired comeback from Mauricio Pochettino saw Lucas Moura net an incredible hat-trick – the third of which came deep in injury time – to break the hearts of the home supporters.

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The final aggregate score was 3–3 but Tottenham Hotspur prevailed on the away goals rule. It was to be one of the most impressive bouts in the history of the competition. The match came just 24 hours after Liverpool overcame a 3–0 first leg deficit to beat Barcelona 4–0 in the second leg at Anfield. Magnificent struggles by both sides resulted in an all-English Champions League final. It was also Spurs’ first final in that competition. The London club would go on to lose the title match 2–0 against Liverpool. However, his incredible journey till the finale was an inspiring story in itself. In particular, the semi-final return will always hold a special place in the hearts of Tottenham supporters.

Ajax vs Tottenham Hotspur: How did the action unfold?

Taking inspiration from Liverpool’s spectacular comeback against Barcelona the day before, Tottenham set themselves on a mission to overcome the deficit. They were trailing 1-0 from the first leg and would be looking for a positive start. Their task was made more difficult when promising young defender Matthijs de Ligt scored in the fifth minute to give Erik ten Haag’s young Ajax team a dream start. Spurs pressed hard for an equalizer and almost found one when Heung-min Son struck the post from the left shortly after the opener. Moura and Dele Alli tested Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, who made some fine saves.

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Tottenham continued to push for the leveller, but were dealt a fatal blow just before half-time when Dusan Tadic made the most of Kieran Trippier’s mistake. He made it 2–0 on the night and 3–0 overall for Hakim Ziyech. Even though Tottenham suffered a significant blow, Pochettino deserves credit for devising a strategy to get his players ready for a historic second-half comeback. The visiting manager brought on Spanish striker Fernando Llorente, who began to make an impact in the final third. Ajax were finding it difficult to deal with the tall physical forward and this allowed Moura to get in behind him.

Lucas Moura inspired Tottenham comeback

Four short minutes in, Tottenham equalized thanks to an impressive finish from Lucas Moura. A quick counter-attack saw Alli set up Brazil’s first goal. Llorente’s close-range effort was immediately saved by the goalkeeper, but Moura pounced on the faltering Ajax defense to score the equaliser. Spurs kept pushing for a winner and finally found a way. In stoppage time, with only seconds left, Moura found the bottom corner to send the away supporters into wild celebrations as the home fans and players looked on in shock. Even though Tottenham did not win the Champions League title, this comeback will always be remembered as one of the best in the history of the competition.

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