Lost for words. At half-time, three goals down in the tie, Spurs were down and out. But somehow the players dug deep and produced a miracle to claw back that deficit and win in the dying seconds.
The first goal in the 2nd half would be crucial for either side. If Ajax were to get that goal then it would really be game over. Instead the mercurial Lucas Moura scored twice in 4 minutes and suddenly Spurs just needed one more goal to win the tie, and with 30 minutes left.
Spurs certainly tried their best in that time remaining, riding their luck at times, as Ajax spurned good chances to put the tie to bed. Then a long hopeful ball from Moussa Sissoko was deflected by Fernando Llorente into the path of Dele Alli who slipped the ball to Moura and his finishing was clinical.
Silence in the Johan Cryuff Arena as the Ajax players collapsed onto the pitch, the Spurs players celebrated wildly and manager Mauricio Pochettino was visibly moved to tears.
How? A combination of good luck, Ajax’s naive arrogance and Spurs’ belief in themselves to force turn this impossible task their way. That is what wins games – the belief to keep going, never giving up and striking when the chance appears.
An amazing achievement! What a season!!
COME ON YOU SPURS!!!
All the trails and tribulations of this difficult season have come to roost in the crucial run-in. TWO demoralising home defeats have seen a depleted Spurs side seemingly out of stamina, ideas and most importantly, belief.
Now the players need to pick themselves up for TWO away matches that will more or less determine the fate of the season. Does this Spurs team have anything else in the tank to pull its battered self over the line?
It’s really becoming more and more difficult to predict. Goalless in two consecutive home matches is very uncharacteristic of Spurs in recent times but goals are going to be critical against Bournemouth today and against Ajax on Wednesday.
For manager Mauricio Pochettino, balancing the needs of this premier league challenge against possible Champions League glory in midweek will be career-defining for him. Will he be able to get the balance right?
Well, time and again, Pochettino and his team have confounded the critics and I believe that perhaps these next two games will demonstrate how good a manager Pochettino is.
The positive news is that both Heung-Min Son and Moussa Sissoko will be available for both games and these players have taken on a talismanic quality in the continuing absense of Harry Kane.
It is vital that both Son and Sissoko are fit enough to inspire Spurs to one last push in the pursuit of Premier League points and European achievement.
Possible line-ups? I think at this point, the team selects itself with all the injuries still plaguing the team – Jan Vertonghen being the latest casualty – it’s not so much about selection or formation or tactics – it’s about belief.
To Dare is to Do.
Seriously, did you expect Spurs to be contesting a Champions League semi-final, in the first place? Definitely not. So, for me everything after the miraculous Citeh victory is a bonus.
Not only that but Spurs started this game without Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko (he came on as a substitute). Thus, the problem areas were upfront and in central midfield.
Sadly, that was painfully obviously throughout the match, especially in an attacking sense as both Fernando Llorente and Lucas Moura did not have the necessary quality whatsoever to trouble the Ajax defence.
And to be honest, Pochettino got his tactics wrong yet again – going with a back three when Ajax played without a centre-forward. Our midfield was over-run and that cost us a goal. This has been a recurring problem – why does Pochettino’s team always start slowly? A real head scratcher.
Once again, the fault lies with Keiron Trippier’s utter lack of defensive nous allowing Neres the freedom of the pitch to begin a move which ended up with Van De Beek scoring an easy goal in the 15th minute. Spurs really need to buy a world-class right back in the summer – that is crucial.
At that point in time, it looked like Spurs were in for a hiding but to their credit, they at least managed to keep the scoreline down and not concede any more away goals. As the game wore on, despite improvements, it was clear – like against West Ham over the weekend – that the Spurs players had no clue in the final third.
The Spurs’ revival – such as it was – coincided with Sissoko coming on for the badly concussed Jan Vertonghen (what the fuck is going on with the injuries this season!), which forced Pochettino to change to a back four and the French midfielder gave Spurs that much needed control in the middle of the park.
Dele Alli has been the target for much criticism but it’s worth nothing that he is carrying an injury – a fractured hand and that might be playing on his mind as he has not been his free-wheeling self at all. Christian Eriksen tried his best but did not have much to work with, considering how poor Llorente and Moura were.
About Moura, surely he is not good enough in the long term. Yes, he has shown flashes of brilliance now and then but not consistently enough. I know Spurs fans rate him but to me Moura is only a slight upgrade from the usual clueless wingers we regularly get from the French league (Again, WHY?!!). Needs to be replaced as well.
If nothing else, the second half proved that with better quality upfront (and Son will be available), Spurs can get goals in Amsterdam to turn the tie. It is not over BUT we must get key players back to do so.
It was frustrating to watch, mainly because Spurs were basically like a blindfolded boxer with one arm tied behind his back. Imagine what could have been achieved with a full-strength team! Sigh, the story of this season…
COME ON YOU SPURS!!!
Fixture congestion, injuries to key players, fatigue and the weight of expectation is threatening to completely derail Spurs season in its most crucial period.
After three mammoth games battling the world’s most expensive team and accrediting themselves admirably, not to mention squeezing out a late win over “park-the-bus” Brighton, the West Ham game was just one match too many to get over the line.
And yet, another massive confrontation looms quickly on the horizon…
With Ajax having the weekend off, and with Spurs’ latest setback, it’s very hard to see how Spurs can overcome the odds to earn for themselves an unprecedented Champions League final place.
As it stands, Spurs would probably still be without Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko, which is a massive blow, as central midfield has been a real problem in their absence.
Eric Dier is hardly match fit, Dele Alli is playing with a broken hand, while Danny Rose is like a fish out of water in that unfamiliar role. Amazingly, Spurs need to look to Victor Wanyama to take charge in the middle of the park.
Not only that but when you consider that Heung-Min Son will be suspended for that home leg and the enormity of the task becomes evident. It’s really in the ‘magic’ hands of Pochettino now…
Possible line-up : Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Wanyama, Eriksen, Dele, Moura, Llorente.
COME ON YOU SPURS!!!