After comfortably dispatching its North London rivals on the weekend, Tottenham was faced with the daunting task of overcoming last season’s Champions League finalist. In the past three seasons, Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus have reached the Champions League final twice. On both occasions, they came up short to Spanish opposition. Before the game, Mild Max would have been hoping this campaign could be different. Tottenham, of course, stood in his path. As one of four teams still unbeaten in the tournament, Mauricio Pochettino’s men came into this tie not as underdogs, but equals.
Ninety seconds later that status was cast in serious doubt. Going down to a Gonzalo Higuain brace sounded a death knell. Teams can gain the upper hand on Juventus and keep them at bay. Fighting back is almost unheard. Only that is exactly what Spurs did.
The second-most anticipated tie of the knockout stage delivered in leaps and bounds. What we witnessed was an entertaining game between two quality teams. In the end, the watching public was treated to a four-goal thriller in which Tottenham recorded a famous 2-2 draw at the Old Lady’s expense.
Here are three talking points from a wonderful match.
Harry Kane is the man
When the young Englishman scored 20 in his first full season with Tottenham he was branded a one season wonder. Fast-forward three years, he’s done it every campaign. So, what did his detractors do? They pointed to the fact he hadn’t done it on the European stage. His crucial strike in the 35th minute gave Tottenham a crucial away goal and a way back into the match. Now, what will critics say? He hasn’t done it at the World Cup? Oops.
As he rounded Gianluigi Buffon to score his 33rd goal of the season, Kane confirmed his credentials as top scorer in Europe’s top five leagues. It was also his seventh in this season’s Champions League, second only to Cristiano Ronaldo.
A lesson in attacking movement by Gonzalo Higuaín
From the first minute, Gonzalo Higuaín and Juventus put Tottenham on the back foot. The Argentinean’s movement wreaked havoc on Tottenham’s back four. Douglas Costa’s electric pace didn’t help. Before Spurs knew it, they were 2-0 down, chasing the game.
Higuain’s first goal was an instinctive volley in which the player didn’t even need to look at goal. He just lofted the ball over his shoulder. His second was a calmly slotted penalty. Such was the quality of his attacking movement the 30-year-old could have scored a third in the first half. After shimmying past two Spurs defenders, he racked a low-drilled effort beyond the post. In case you thought he deserved another bite at the apple, the striker missed a 45th-minute penalty, high-fiving the crossbar.
Tottenham prove themselves
Even when Spurs beat the current holders Real Madrid in the group stage, their win was tainted with claims Los Blancos were simply off form. It’s fair to say Spurs proved themselves on this night.
Dominating the Serie A champions is one thing. Leveling a 2-0 deficit at the Allianz Stadium is another. At least it is now. Juventus simply doesn’t let opponents back into matches. After going down 2-0 so early, most teams would have been disheartened and capitulated. Spurs instead found a second wind and began to control the game.
Not only did they double up the Bianconeri in possession, they continuously sliced open to the tune of eight chances created a Juventus side known for its defensive solidity. Before tonight, Juventus had conceded one goal in its previous 1,450 minutes of football. In one impressive evening, Spurs managed to earn two precious away goals. In this Champions League season, Tottenham can rest assured knowing they’ve taken on Real Madrid, Juventus, and Borussia Dortmund, dominating all three.