Tag Archives: lastsecond

Tottenham’s turn for miracle comeback as last-second goal sinks Ajax

Facing a three-goal deficit at halftime, Tottenham pulled off another Champions League comeback for the ages.

Lucas Moura completed a hat trick in the sixth minute of injury time as Tottenham rallied to beat Ajax 3-2 on Wednesday and reach its first Champions League final, ending a remarkable run by the young Dutch team that had knocked off some of Europe’s biggest teams along the way.

A day after Liverpool stunningly erased a 3-0 deficit from the first leg by beating Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield, Moura nearly single-handedly helped Tottenham pull off a similar feat in Amsterdam.

Ajax seemed to have the two-legged semifinal wrapped up by halftime after teenage captain Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech netted to put it 2-0 up at the break — and 3-0 on aggregate.

But Moura scored twice in a four-minute span to put the visitors one goal from going through 3-3 on aggregate thanks to the away goals rule.

After Jan Vertonghen’s header hit the crossbar in the 87th minute, that goal finally arrived when Moura struck again deep into injury time. Dele Alli laid the ball off the Brazilian as he streaked into the area and his low shot crept inside the right post to complete another improbable victory.

“It’s impossible to explain what I’m feeling in this moment,” Moura said. “We always believed it was possible, and we gave everything on the pitch. I think we deserved this moment.”


Moura’s winner led to a pile-up of Spurs players by the corner flag celebrating one of the biggest wins in club history, as the disbelieving Ajax players lay on the ground.

It means Tottenham will face Liverpool in Madrid on June 1 in the first all-English final since Manchester United beat Chelsea in 2008. That’s a scenario few had imagined last week when Barcelona and Ajax both won the first legs.

“We saw Liverpool last night, it goes to show it’s not over until it is over,” Tottenham full-back Danny Rose said.

For Ajax, it ended a dream run that saw a team built around young homegrown talents knock out Real Madrid and Juventus before putting themselves on the brink of the club’s first Champions League final since 1995.

The hosts dominated the first half and De Ligt, the 19-year-old captain, headed home a corner in the fifth minute after goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had been forced into making a good one-handed save from Dusan Tadic.

Son Heung-Min countered by hitting the post at the other end minutes later but Ziyech doubled the lead in the 35th. Donny van de Beek streaked forward and laid the ball off to Tadic, who cut the ball back to Ziyech for a one-time finish beyond the reach of Lloris and inside the far post.

That should have been it, especially given the fact that Ajax had never lost a Champions League game after scoring the first goal.

But even without injured star striker Harry Kane, Tottenham found a way back.

In a second half filled with chances at both ends, Moura started the comeback after a quick counterattack as Alli again laid the ball off for the streaking Brazilian to slot a low shot past goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Hakim Ziyech of Ajax is dejected after the loss to Tottenham on Wednesday. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The second came after Onana made a stunning close-range save to deny Fernando Llorente but the goalkeeper couldn’t control the ball, and it fell to Moura in the following scramble. With his back to goal, the Brazilian swiveled and fired into the left corner of the net.

Suddenly the semifinal was hanging in the balance again, and both teams missed chances to score a third. Ziyech had the best opportunities for Ajax but he shot just wide when he was picked out by Tadic in the middle of the box in the 63rd and then hit the post with a similar effort in the 79th.

That proved costly as Spurs launched one desperate counter just as the five minutes of added time were nearly up. A long ball up the pitch fell to Alli, who calmly laid it off to Moura to complete another dramatic semifinal comeback.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is still looking for his first title with the club, was in tears as he celebrated on the field and broke down again in a TV interview.

“It’s still difficult to talk. Thank you football, thank you these guys, my players. This type of emotion, without football I think is impossible to (experience),” Pochettino said. “They are all heroes but (Moura) is a superhero.”

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Belgium caps comeback with last-second goal to move into quarter-final

Jan Vertonghen started Belgium's comeback with a crazy, looping header and Nacer Chaldi capped it by finishing off a 10-second, end-to-end attack in the final moments.

It added up to a 3-2 victory over Japan on Monday that gave the Belgians a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals for the second straight tournament.

Trailing 2-0, Vertonghen scored with a header in the 69th minute that appeared to be a cross but somehow dropped in under the bar. Substitute Marouane Fellaini headed in another from Eden Hazard's cross in the 74th.

Chaldi, who came on as a substitute in the 65th, decided it with virtually the last kick of the game in the fourth minute of injury time.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibault Courtois grabbed a corner kick and rolled the ball to Kevin De Bruyne, who dribbled to the top of the centre circle and passed to Thomas Meunier on the right. Meunier one-timed the ball across the area and Romelu Lukaku let it roll by for Chaldi to tap in with his left foot from seven yards.

Belgium is the first team to overturn a two-goal deficit in a World Cup knockout match since West Germany beat England in extra time at the 1970 tournament. The last team do it in regulation was when Portugal beat North Korea in the 1966 quarter-finals.

"It's a test of character. It's a test of the team," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said. "You have to see how the substitutes react, how the whole team reacts."

Belgium will next face five-time champion Brazil in the quarter-finals on Friday in Kazan.

Japan led through early second-half goals by Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui, but they couldn't hold on.

Classic match

"When we were up 2-0, I really wanted to score another goal and we did have opportunities," Japan coach Akira Nishino said. "We were to some extent controlling the game, but Belgium upped their game when they had to."

What was expected to be a mismatch ended up being a classic, partly because of Martinez's decisions to send on Fellaini and Chadli as substitutes in the 65th minute.

"In football, sometimes you want to be perfect," Martinez said. "In the World Cup and especially in the knockout stage, it's about getting through."

Belgium, which narrowly avoided joining Germany, Argentina, Spain and Portugal as big-name eliminations, won all three of its group matches and scored a tournament-leading nine goals at that stage.

Japan narrowly scraped through, advancing ahead of Senegal because it had fewer yellow cards.

The Japanese have now lost in the round of 16 three times without ever reaching the quarter-finals.

Four Japanese players fell on their knees in despair after the final whistle. Hiroki Sakai and Gen Shoji were in tears.

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