How Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur made it to the Champions League final
Tottenham’s sensation journey to the 2019 Champions League final was complete last night after a dramatic second-leg win over Dutch giants Ajax.
Mauricio Pochettino sank to his knees on the final whistle after Lucas Moura’s second half hat-trick set up an all Premier League clash with Liverpool in Madrid on 1 June.
Spurs have endured a long and winding road to the final this season, and below we take a look back at the trials and tribulations of a truly memorable campaign.
Inter Milan (a) - September 18
The tone was set in their opening group game at the San Siro way back in September. Spurs were cruising towards victory over Inter Milan as they led through Christian Eriksen's strike. However, a late collapse saw the Italian side score two goals through Mauro Icardi and Matias Vecino in the final five minutes to inflict an early defeat on Mauricio Pochettino's side.
PSV (a) - October 24
Having also lost their second group game against Barcelona, Spurs could really have done with a win against PSV and it looked like they were going to get it after Lucas Moura and Harry Kane goals overturned Hirving Lozano's early opener. But Hugo Lloris saw red and Spurs shipped an 87th-minute equaliser to Luuk de Jong to leave them with just one point at the halfway stage of the group.
PSV (h) - November 6
For what would not be the last time, Tottenham were minutes from heading out of the competition as they laboured against the Dutch side in the reverse fixture at Wembley. They trailed to another Luuk de Jong goal and were on the brink of elimination until Harry Kane's double in the final 12 minutes, the second coming with three minutes remaining, allowing Spurs to live another day.
Inter Milan (h) - November 28
This was effectively another shootout for Spurs as anything other than a win would have been the end of the road and they found life tough against an Inter Milan side who came for a draw. It was not pretty but Pochettino's men found a way through in the 80th minute when Christian Eriksen fired home.
Barcelona (a) - December 12
Spurs needed to match Inter's result against PSV to progress in the final round of group games - not an easy task considering they were away at Barcelona. It got even harder when Ousmane Dembele sent the Spanish side into an early lead at the Nou Camp. But Lucas Moura got into the habit of rescuing his side with an 85th-minute leveller, which proved enough as Inter could only draw with PSV.
Borussia Dortmund (h) - February 13
Having wrestled control of their last-16 first-leg tie against the Bundesliga side thanks to Son Heung-min's goal early in the second half, Spurs effectively put the tie to bed with a late two-goal blast in the final 10 minutes. Jan Vertonghen made it 2-0 in the 83rd minute and, with Wembley still rocking, Fernando Llorente added a late third, which made their second leg in Dortmund a formality.
Manchester City (h) - April 9
In the first European game at their new stadium, Spurs made it a night to remember when they took the advantage in their quarter-final with City. Hugo Lloris had saved an earlier penalty from Sergio Aguero, but Pep Guardiola's side were strangely passive and Son Heung-min put Spurs 1-0 up with 12 minutes remaining - a goal that proved crucial.
Manchester City - April 17
Not even their experience of late drama could have prepared Tottenham for what was waiting for them in the quarter-final second leg at the Etihad Stadium. The start was incredible enough as five goals in the first 21 minutes made it 3-3 on aggregate, but after Sergio Aguero's fourth goal for City had been cancelled out by a controversial Fernando Llorente strike, Spurs were heading through on away goals going deep into injury time. But, heartbreak appeared to strike as Raheem Sterling converted for Manchester City to spark amazing scenes of celebration for the hosts and despair for Spurs. However, in incredible drama, the goal was chalked off by VAR for offside and the emotions switched, with Pochettino's men progressing.
Ajax (a) - May 8
A brave fightback against the Dutch side, where Spurs had battled back from a 3-0 aggregate deficit at half-time of the semi-final second leg, looked like falling just short and for the fifth time they were just moments from exiting the competition. Enter Lucas Moura. The Brazilian's two goals earlier in the second half had given his side hope and he completed a hat-trick in the most remarkable circumstances as he struck with just seconds of injury time remaining. It gave Spurs a 3-2 win on the night and they progressed on away goals on one of the most famous nights in the club's history.
Words: Jake Evans