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Experience rules at Wembley

Patrick Power by Patrick Power @rfutbol - 0 8,661

Pin Tottenham out of the Champions League. AFP
Tottenham out of the Champions League. AFP

Experience rules at Wembley

Patrick Power by Patrick Power @rfutbol - 0 8,661

Tottenham completely dominated at Wembley, but a spell of Juventus momentum decided the encounter in favour of the Italians, whose seasoned expertise beat down the hosts' excitement.

Two evenly-matched sides came face to face at Wembley. A place of worship for English football fans and the action on the pitch was certainly worthy of the magnitude set by the stage. The first leg in Turin included goals, penalties, missed chances, and a terrific comeback that gave Spurs hope as well as a slender advantage as they looked to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2010/11. The visit of last season's runners-up made for a laboriuos task, but the encounter did not disappoint.

Juve's 'tifosi' arrived at the iconic stadium an hour ahead of kick-off in order to back their team through the warm-up. Not a trace of apprehension from the away end, with the Italians fancying their chances. After an hour, they surely must have thought their team were heading out, but a good 10-15 minute spell was enough for the visitors to snatch victory.

In the top five European leagues, Juventus (20 games) and Tottenham (17 games) were the two sides on the longest unbeaten runs. Something had to give. An it was Spurs who were made to pay for their inexperience. Picking apart one of the most foolproof defences in Europe and keeping Higuain and Dybala quiet for over an hour was not enough.

- Tottenham in control -

Similarly brave approaches to the game initially saw Tottenham settle on the ball, setting the tempo that began to undo Juventus' airtight defence as soon as the third minute. Son, who was brilliant against 36-year-old Barzagli, went outside his marker before forcing an early save from Buffon. The South Korean really pressed the experienced defenders buttons, but it was the Italian who ultimately had the last laugh.

There was nothing cagey about the opening exchanges, with both teams eager to get on the front foot and press high. Tottenham did so brilliantly, opening up spaces in the Juve back line, while the Serie A giants struggled with rash and inaccurate passing.

Harry Kane was waiting in the wings hoping to heap further misery on Gianluigi Buffon, whose trips to the British Isles have not been at all fruitful in the past. The striker almost added to the goalkeeper's woes after sixteen minutes, but could only hit the side-netting from an acute angle after going round him.

The Italians failed to cope with the relentless pace Tottenham seem to thrive on and all Allegri's men could do was hold on for the half-time whistle. However, Wembley soon erupted as Spurs' dominant first-half display was rewarded. Son made amends for a missed chance moments earlier by tucking away a scuffed effort from Trippier's pass across goal.

Juventus looked for an immediate response but Pjanic placed his strike just wide of Lloris' goal to record his side's clearest chance of the game moments before the break. The Italians were also left fuming when their penalty appeals were waved away by the referee, despite Vertonghen catching Costa from behind in the box.

Nothing looked like changing in the second half with Tottenham taking control and shading possession, but that's what makes the Champions League so special. It can all change in the blink of an eye, and Juventus had the know-how to wait for their opportunity to pounce.

- Allegri changes -

You should never take last year's finalists for dead, but nobody inside the stadium saw it coming. In three minutes, Juventus went from desperation to jubilation, while Tottenham went from dominant to overwhelmed and nervy.

Allegri switched things around for his side by bringing on Asamoah and Lichtsteiner, and the substitutions proved catalytic as Juventus began to get into a game they had been absent from for over an hour. First, Dybala flashed a volley wide, but Higuain did not waste his chance as Khedira flicked on a header to the back post.

Tottenham had looked fairly comfortable on the hour-mark, and in a matter of minutes they were facing elimination. Higuain played Dybala through far too easily and the little Argentine picked his spot before firing past Lloris.

- Tottenham surge forward -

As expected, Tottenham pushed forward in search of an equaliser. After composing themselves, the hosts began to pile pressure on Juventus, who gradually took a defensive approach, sitting deeper and deeper in their own half.

Chiellini defended superbly, putting his body on the line to keep Spurs at bay, and shots from Eriksen and Son fizzed tantalisingly wide of Buffon. With stoppage time approaching, Kane nodded a Davies ball across goal, beating Buffon's dive but hitting the inside of the post. It slowly rolled back right across the line before eventually being whacked away by a defender.

But Juventus are experts at seeing out games such as these and it was not to be for Pochettino's zestful Spurs who, having seemingly been in control of the tie with half an hour remaining, are out of the Champions League. They will be scratching their heads wondering how.

Patrick Power

Patrick Power

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