For a sport that is often littered with scandal and negativity, football has once again shown that it’s the most fascinating and exhilarating on the planet after two unbelievable nights in the UEFA Champions League.
Both Liverpool and Spurs headed into their semi final second legs against Barcelona and Ajax respectively, with the odds heavily stacked against them, but somehow the two Premier League clubs have made it to the Final in Madrid.
Nou Camp Nightmare
Liverpool had endured a torrid night at the Nou Camp against Barcelona in their semi final 1st leg, with the Catalan giants marching into a 3-goal lead ahead of the return tie thanks to goals from Lionel Messi (2) and former striker Luis Suarez. The tie was pretty much dead in the eyes of most, especially with Liverpool not being able to call on the likes of Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino for their home leg.
A Barcelona goal at Anfield would have well and truly finished the semi final off, but a somewhat patched up Liverpool raced into a 1-0 lead thanks to Divock Origi in the 7th minute. 1-0 up at the break, Liverpool needed to come out of the blocks quickly in the second half as their hopes of making the Madrid final still looked bleak. Georginio Wijnaldum, who replaced an injured Andrew Robertson at the break, hit a quick-fire double to level the tie on 56 minutes, leaving Barca shell-shocked.
Then, as the game approached the final 10 minutes, Liverpool earned a corner, and some quick thinking by Trent Alexander-Arnold and ball boy Oakley Cannonier saw the former quickly play the ball into Origi, catching Barcelona unawares, with the Belgian striker converting to put Liverpool 4-0 up, sending them through the to Champions League Final against all odds. Over to you Spurs.
Spurs At The Johan Cruyff Arena
Spurs trailed 1-0 on aggregate as they headed to the The Johan Cruyff Arena and quickly found themselves 2-0 down as Ajax skipper Matthijs de Ligt took advantage of some slack defending at a corner to head home. Ajax started to get into their groove and on 35 minutes went 3-0 on aggregate, with Hakim Ziyech finishing confidently past Hugo Lloris from range.
While Spurs had shown they could cause Ajax problems, they had failed to find the killer pass or finish in the final 3rd, and at half time, all hope looked lost. Mauricio Pochettino threw on Fernando Llorente at the break as Spurs looked to muster up the most unlikely of comebacks, and boy did they.
Lucas Moura Hat-Trick
Spurs were without Harry Kane, and while it’s often Heung-Min Son who takes on the goalscoring mantle, it was Lucas Moura’s turn to shine, and not for the first time. The Brazilian popped up with his first in the 55th minute, before putting Spurs within a goal of reaching the final just 4 minutes later. Ajax did everything they could to hold out, and would have felt they had done enough, but in the 96th minute, a brilliant around the corner touch from Dele Alli found Moura, who angled the ball past a beaten Andre Onana.
Two spectacular nights of football, and two of the most unlikely of comebacks, see Liverpool and Spurs do battle in an all English Champions League Final in Madrid. English football’s dominance looks to be back in place once again.