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09.05.2019 Europe

Tottenham 'Liverpool' Ajax To Set Up All English Champions League Final

By Paul Myers - RFI
Reuters/Matthew Childs
MAY 9, 2019 EUROPE

Tottenham have booked their first finals berth in the Champions League thanks to a Lucas Moura hat-trick against Ajax in Amsterdam, in a second remarkable turnaround by an English club in as many days after Liverpool stunned Barcelona. The all English final takes place on 1 June in Madrid.

On the morning after Liverpool's spectacular night before against Barcelona, Jonathan Wilson, the editor of the British football magazine The Blizzard, tweeted: "I'm old enough to remember when three-goal leads meant something."

On the night of Tottenham's pyrotechnics at Ajax, Wilson tweeted: "I'm old enough to remember when three-goal leads meant something."

Wilson as wag? Discuss. What is certain, however, is that two English teams in the Champions League produced two marvellous comebacks in the space of 24 hours.

Liverpool's 4-0 humiliation of Barcelona at Anfield on 7 May to advance to the Champions League final on 1 June was emulated by Tottenham in Amsterdam on 8 May.

Seeking their first Champions League final since 1996, skipper Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech scored in the first-half to place Ajax within sight of the Madrid showdown.

Added to the 1-0 win at Tottenham on 30 April, those strikes catapulted Ajax into a 3-0 aggregate lead at half-time in the second leg.

Just over 50 minutes later, Ajax had been Liverpooled out of the competition.

Hero

The Brazilian Lucas Moura scored all three goals for the north Londoners to level the aggregate scores and send Spurs through on the away goals rule.

"Football gives us moments like this that we cannot imagine," said Lucas, who was deemed surplus to requirements at Paris Saint-Germain in December 2018, following the 222 million euro acquisition of his compatriot Neymar.

"We need to enjoy it. Look at me," he added, "It's the best moment in my life, my career."

While his former PSG teammates – eliminated for the second consecutive year in the Champions League last 16 – gaze enviously at his good fortune, Ajax will rue their mental fragility.

After dispatching the defending champions Real Madrid in the last 16 and Juventus in the quarter-finals, Erik ten Hag's team buckled when apotheosis beckoned.

"I told the players it is very hard to find the right words in a moment like this and that football is cruel," said Ten Hag, whose squad will be broken up with the transfers of several of its leading lights.

"We have to endure the cruel side but we have to go on."

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