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Lucas Moura sets up all-English final after dramatic finish

Pin Lucas Moura's hat-trick sents Tottenham through to the final. AFP
Lucas Moura's hat-trick sents Tottenham through to the final. AFP

Lucas Moura sets up all-English final after dramatic finish

Paul Singh by Paul Singh @besoccer_com - 0 +15k

A hat-trick by Brazilian Lucas Moura sent Tottenham into the Champions League final against Liverpool after winning 2-3 at Ajax (3-3 aggregate) and qualifying on away goals. De Ligt and Ziyech had given Ajax a 3-0 lead in the tie before Spurs fought back from the dead.

Tottenham Hotspur are into the Champions League final after an extraordinary fightback against Ajax at the Johan Cruyff Arena. They were 2-0 down on the night (3-0 on aggregate) with 40 minutes left in the tie before Lucas Moura won the tie for the Londoners. His last goal came with almost the last kick of the game and there will be an all-English final for the first time since 2008 when Man Utd and Chelsea met in Moscow.

Ajax came out the blocks firing and Lloris had to prevent Tadic from scoring after just three minutes. From the resulting corner, De Ligt gave Ajax the lead after he headed home Schone's corner from the middle of the box. Pochettino's side felt Van de Beek fouled Vertonghen, but there was nothing doing. Tottenham responded almost straight away and Son hit the post in the sixth minute after the South Korean made a fabulous run down the far side. The game was incredibly open, but there is no doubt that for the majority of the first half, Ajax were on top. 

Ajax had more possession and territory and looked more dangerous, but Tottenham then had two clear chances in the 23rd and 24th minutes. Dele Alli played a ball to Son who hit a tame shot at the goalie and then Eriksen had the second effort after Lucas Moura could not get a shot off. The Dutch team then nearly made it 2-0 right on the half-hour. Van de Beek fed the Serb down Spurs' right, he went into the area and turned before firing just past the far post. 

Tottenham were getting frustrated in attack as they struggled to find the target and in the 35th minute, Ajax's pressure finally told. Ziyech doubled Ajax's lead on the night after Van de Beek ran from near midfield before passing to his left to Tadic. The striker then ran into the box and waited for Ziyech before Ziyech hit a thunderous strike into the far corner. It was absolutely extraordinary, Ajax had a 3-0 lead on aggregate after 35 minutes. They had more than one foot in the final. They even finished the half strongly with a corner and there was jubilation when half-time came. 

In the second half though, it was a completely different story. Fernando Llorente was brought on for Wanyama and he made a big difference. Seconds after the resumption, Llorente sent a looping pass for Dele Alli and it could have been a goal had De Ligt not cleared for a corner. Danny Rose then made a great run down the middle of over 30 yards a few minutes later before looking for Alli in the box, but he ran past it. Onana was then called into action in the 53rd minute after Eriksen's ball into the far post for Alli who struck it first time. The goalie had to make a two handed save. The siege continued.

Llorente headed over the corner and then straight after that, Tottenham deservedly made it 2-1. Rose sent a long ball up field to Moura at midfield, he ran for a bit before laying it off to Alli. He then drove down the middle before Moura took over again, beat Schone before firing it into the corner. Three minutes later, it was all square on the night. Rose's cross was flicked on by Son and Llorente was denied from close range, Onana was then going to get on the end of it, but Schone prevented him from doing so and Moura took advantage by turning and firing into the corner. 

After a VAR check for handball and offside, the goal was confirmed and that goal seemed to spark Ajax into action after their 15 minute nap. Ziyech saw a shot deflected wide and then Blind fired over from a corner and in thr 63rd minute, Ziyech hit a Tadic cross off target. In between all that, Llorente had an opportunity for the visitors. The game was absolutely crazy. 

Ajax actually seemed the better team then and Lloris was called into action again in the 71st minute. Alderweireld headed a set-piece wide three minutes later and more goals definitely seemed on the cards. In the 79th minute, Ajax were the width of a post away from sealing the tie. Van de Beek'as first shot was blocked, the ball fell back to him and he played the ball for Ziyech in the D and his effort struck Lloris' left hand post

Tottenham continued to attack very dangerously towards the end and it seemed like they would score. The question was whether they would run out of time. Lamela gave it to Llorente who tried to play it back and then Eriksen's cross was cleared. In the 87th minute, Eriksen's ball in from the corner was flicked on by Llorente and Vertonghen saw his free header tipped away by Onana. Vertonghen then got a second bite of the cherry, but Veltman cleared it off the line. 

Ajax seemed to be on the verge of breaking point and they got nervous in the five added minutes. They tried to keep it in the corner in the 91st minute, but they failed to keep it there. And then two minutes later, instead of going to the corner to waste time, they tried to score. On hindsight, a bad decision. Ziyech's shot was saved by Lloris and then Tadic decided to shoot and curled one wide of the post. 

When Ajax were ready to celebrate getting into the final, Lucas Moura scored right at the death. Sissoko sent in a Hail Mary ball, Llorente flicked it on and then Alli found Moura who put it right into the corner. The Spurs players celebrated like crazy and the Ajax players fell to the floor in tears. It was very cruel on them. Veltman then managed to throw it into the box with one last Ajax attack, but it was cleared. For the second tie running (the other was against City), Spurs qualified in the dying seconds  and in the process, set up an all English final in one of the best Champions League seasons ever.

Paul Singh

Paul Singh

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