To the surprise of both their supporters and neutrals, Tottenham’s 2018-19 Champions League campaign ended on the grandest stage of them all.
Lucas Moura has completed a hat-trick six minutes into stoppage time as Tottenham Hotspur pulled off a stunning Champions League comeback, beating Ajax 3-2 to set up an all-English final against Liverpool.
A day after the Reds rocked Barcelona by erasing a three-goal first-leg deficit with a 4-0 win at Anfield, Spurs pulled off a similar feat in Amsterdam as Moura’s second-half strikes sent them through on the away-goals rule as the tie with Ajax ended 3-3 on aggregate.
The hosts seemed to have the two-legged semi-final wrapped up by halftime at the Johan Cryuff ArenA after goals from teenage captain Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech put them 2-0 up at the break – leading 3-0 on aggregate.
But Lucas Moura scored twice in a four-minute span to level the score on the evening and put the visitors one goal away from going through on the away goals rule.
After Jan Vertonghen’s header hit the crossbar in the 87th minute it seemed Tottenham would fall just short, as they did 57 years ago in their only other European Cup semi-final.
But there was one final twist as Moura struck again deep into time added on.
Dele Alli laid the ball off the Brazilian as he streaked into the area and his low left-foot shot crept inside the right post to complete another improbable victory.
It continues the remarkable progress for Spurs under boss Mauricio Pochettino, who has led the club further in Europe than any other manager.
Tottenham, whose Champions League campaign began in July in the second qualifying round, will face Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool at the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid on June 1.
For Ajax, a brilliant run in this competition in which they beat Real Madrid and Juventus in previous rounds, ended in the most heartbreaking of ways with their side set to be picked apart by Europe’s heavyweights in the off-season.