Juventus 2 Tottenham 2 Champions League round of 16

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Tottenham players celebrate Christian Eriksen’s equaliser against Juventus in the Champions League

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Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images

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Juventus 2 Tottenham 2 Champions League round of 16

Spurs’s comeback in Turin delights manager Mauricio Pochettino

Match Report

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 – 8:22am

Juventus 2 Tottenham 2

Spurs has recovered from a shocking start against Juventus to end up with a share of the spoils in a thrilling Champions League last-16 first-leg encounter.

Last night’s match at the Allianz Stadium couldn’t have started worse for the Londoners, who found themselves two goals down after nine minutes. Gonzalo Higuain volleyed the Italian champions ahead on two minutes with a wonderful strike. He then fired home a penalty to punish Ben Davies for his clumsy challenge on Federico Bernardeschi.

Spurs looked shell-shocked, but not for long. Displaying the confidence that comes from a 12-match unbeaten streak, the visitors began to grow into the game, creating chances for Harry Kane, who should have scored with a point-blank header that went straight into the grateful arms of Gianluigi Buffon.

But Kane, who had scored 16 goals in his last 14 matches before the Juventus clash, shrugged off the miss and soon had Spurs on the scoreboard with a cool and clinical finish. Running onto a pass from Dele Alli, the Tottenham striker rounded the advancing Buffon and stroked the ball into the net from a tight angle.

The home fans were stunned. So was Buffon. It was the first goal he had conceded this year, the first in 723 minutes of football for club and country.

Spurs were now in the driving seat, dominating the midfield thanks to the industry and invention of Alli and the outstanding Christian Eriksen. It was fitting that the Dane grabbed the equaliser in the second half with a low free-kick that found its way into the corner past the despairing dive of Buffon.

The veteran 40-year-old goalkeeper looked his age against a young and determined Spurs side, but then none of the Italians shone on a night when they let slip a two-goal advantage for the first time since moving to the Allianz Stadium in 2011.

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri acknowledged his side had blown a great opportunity to establish a foothold in the quarter-final, particularly as Higuain missed a penalty on the stroke of half-time that would have re-established Juventus’s two-goal lead.

“Juve made a few mistakes, partly because of their pressure,” said Allegri. “It was only normal to have some difficulties. After going 2-0 up, we got too deep and stopped playing, but part of that was also down to Tottenham’s performance.”

Nonetheless, Allegri expressed his belief that Juventus can emerge victorious from the return leg at Wembley in three weeks. “It’s a pity we didn’t win, but we have everything it takes to progress to the quarter-finals,” he said.

Privately, however, Allegri will know his side are now the underdogs. Tottenham not only have two precious away goals to take back to London but their self-belief is bubbling after a superb display in Turin.

“Fantastic game!” exclaimed Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino. “We were sloppy and conceded two goals in nine minutes, but the character we showed was fantastic. I want to congratulate the players – 2-0 down in Turin to a team so difficult to break down. We deserved a victory more than a draw.”

Asked for an assessment on how his side has evolved during the course of the season, Pochettino said: “We are more mature now. In the last few weeks, the team are growing and have stepped up. It’s a good example of the capacity we have.”

Basel 0 Manchester City 4

In the night’s other Champions League tie involving an English club, Manchester City all but assured their place in the quarter-final with a 4-0 thrashing of Basel in Switzerland.

Three up inside 23 minutes with goals from Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero, the runaway Premier League leaders added a fourth after the break when Gundogan again found the net.

“An excellent result,” announced Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. “We are almost in the quarter-finals. Champions League is always 180 minutes and we will take the game seriously but it’s an excellent result.”

 

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