UEFA Champions League

Moura-inspired Spurs edge Ajax amid drama-charged finale

Lucas Moura of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring
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  • Tottenham defeat Ajax 3-2 in second leg of UEFA Champions League semi-final
  • Lucas Moura hat-trick helps Spurs advance on away goals rule with late strike
  • Liverpool-Tottenham final set for 1 June in Madrid

Tottenham Hotspur mounted an improbable comeback to advance to the UEFA Champions League final on Wednesday, defeating Ajax 3-2 at the Johan Cruyff Arena on the back of a remarkable Lucas Moura second-half hat-trick. Moura completed his treble on the stroke of fulltime to ensure Spurs prevailed on away goals with a 3-3 aggregate scoreline and advance to their first Champions League decider.

Down two goals in the match and three overall at half-time – plus still missing star forward Harry Kane – it looked as if Tottenham were in for a long evening in Amsterdam. But like their Premier League counterparts Liverpool on Tuesday, Spurs netted three times in the second half while holding their opponents scoreless.

Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt opened the scoring just five minutes in, rising over Dele Alli and using his head to power a corner past Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Then Hakim Ziyech doubled the hosts' advantage 10 minutes before half-time, receiving a pass from Dusan Tadic in the penalty area and bending his finish toward the far post.

While Ajax exerted their will in the first half, Tottenham turned the match-up on its head after the interval. Their frenetic attack at last broke the Dutch side down in the 55th minute, when Alli and Moura seared through the centre of defence to combine for Spurs' first goal. Four minutes later Moura placed himself in the thick of the action again, latching onto the ball in the box after a sprawling save by Andre Onana, then expertly turning and slotting home to tie the game.

The dynamic combination of Alli and Moura would prove decisive six minutes into second-half stoppage time. With their Champions League hopes nearly extinguished, Alli flicked a through ball into the centre of the box for the Brazilian speedster to place his shot past Onana. The goal left the majority of fans at the Johan Cruyff Arena in stunned silence, while sending the Spurs sideline into a frenzy.

The Champions League final leaves English pair Tottenham and Liverpool set to meet on 1 June at the Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

Did you know?

  • The 2019 Champions League final will be only the third major European final in history to feature two English teams, after the 1972 UEFA Cup final (Spurs vs Wolves) and 2008 Champions League final (Manchester United vs Chelsea). 
  • Spurs become the fifth different English club to reach the Champions League final, after Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. England now hold the record of most different finalists after previously sharing it with Spain.
  • Lucas Moura joins such players as Kaka, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo as Brazilian players to score a Champions League hat-trick.
  • Until today, Ajax had never lost a Champions League match after scoring the opening goal (now W41-D8-L1).
  • Matthijs de Ligt is only the second teenager to score in multiple Champions League knockout matches in the same season. Kylian Mbappe scored four as a teenager for AS Monaco in the knockout stages in 2016/17.

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