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Tottenham Hotspur’s Road to the Champions League Final

Leigh Copson 9 May 2019
Lucas Moura of Spurs (credit:Adam Davy/PA Wire/PA Images)

Tottenham Hotspur are making the Champions League Final debut when they take on Liverpool on June 1, and ahead of this all-Premier League showdown in Madrid we are taking a look back at Spurs’ remarkable road to the final…

Group Stage Matchday 1 – Inter Milan 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Tottenham’s opening group match suggested late drama was going to be the norm for them in the Champions League this season. Spurs looked to be closing on an impressive away win when they entered the final few minutes with a 1-0 lead thanks to Christian Eriksen’s 53rd minute strike, but they could not hold out and Mauro Icardi hauled inter Milan level with just five minutes remaining in normal time. A point would still be a decent return for Spurs, but they then threw that away when Matias Vecino headed in a winner for Inter in stoppage time.

Group Stage Matchday 2 – Tottenham Hotspur 2 Barcelona 4

Having thrown away a one-goal lead to lose on opening night, Tottenham desperately needed to issue an immediate response in their first home game. The problem was that the opposition were one of the outright favourites, Barcelona. The visitors needed just two minutes to break the deadlock through Philippe Coutinho and less than 30 minutes to double their advantage through Ivan Rakitic, but Spurs were able to stop the bleeding after the break and hauled themselves back into the tie through Harry Kane. Their joy was short-lived as Lionel Messi restored Barca’s two-goal cushion a couple of minutes later, and the Argentinian magician then wrapped up a 4-2 victory after Erik Lamela had given Spurs hope.

Group Stage Matchday 3 – PSV Eindhoven 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Having opened up with back-to-back defeats this was a must-win trip to the Netherlands for Tottenham, and they looked like escaping with all three points after Lucas Moura and Harry Kane cancelled out Hirving Lozano’s opener. However, a moment of madness from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris resulted in his dismissal, leaving Spurs with 10 men, and PSV made their numerical advantage count three minutes from time when Luuk de Jong grabbed an equaliser. With just one point from three games Spurs were in major trouble.

Group Stage Matchday 4 – Tottenham Hotspur 2 PSV Eindhoven 1

Tottenham were probably sick of the sight of Luuk de Jong after just two minutes of the return meeting with PSV Eindhoven. Having seen him snatch an equaliser for the Dutch club on Matchday 3 he needed just two minutes to hand his side the lead and stun Wembley Stadium when the two clubs met again. That goal appeared to have destroyed Spurs’ European dream when they entered the final 15 minutes of the match still trailing, but talismanic striker Harry Kane popped up to give them a glimmer of hope with an equaliser on 78 minutes and he then brought them back from the dead a minute from time when he helped himself to a winner. Spurs were back in the race to advance.

Group Stage Matchday 5 – Tottenham Hotspur 1 Inter Milan 0

Matchday 5 was another must-win outing for Tottenham and it was against a team who had broken their hearts on the opening night. Two last-gasp goals had snatched a 2-1 victory for Inter Milan on their own turf, but it was Spurs’ turn to strike late in the return meeting as Christian Eriksen’s goal earned the Premier League side a 1-0 victory and set up a huge trip to Barcelona on Matchday 6.

Group Stage Matchday 6 – Barcelona 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Tottenham travelled to the Camp Nou knowing that they had to either match or better Inter Milan’s result against PSV Eindhoven, and they were handed a major lifeline as Inter drew 1-1 at home with the Dutch outfit. The problem was Tottenham were trailing to a seventh-minute goal from Ousmane Dembele heading into the latter stages of the match with Barcelona. However, Lucas Moura gave Spurs fans a glimpse of what was to come when he fired home just moments after seeing another effort get cleared off the line. Tottenham had scraped through, but were they simply delaying an inevitable exit?

Last-16 – Tottenham Hotspur beat Borussia Dortmund 4-0 in aggregate

Tottenham were handed a tricky last-16 tie when they were paired with a Borussia Dortmund side who were flying high in the Bundesliga, but by the time this two-legged tie came around the German side had started to endure a slump in form that threatened to destroy their season. Spurs took full advantage. They gave themselves a commanding lead to take to Signal Iduna Park with a dominant second-half display that saw Heung-Min Son, Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Llorente all hit the back of the net, and they then secure their first Champions League quarter-final appearance for eight years when Harry Kane fired them to a 1-0 victory and became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer in European competitions. 

Quarter-Finals – Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester City on away goals (4-4 aggregate)

Tottenham’s reward for the emphatic win over Borussia Dortmund was a massive two-legged quarter-final clash with competition favourites Manchester City, who at the time were on a quest for an historic quadruple. City blew the chance to take a 1-0 lead at Spurs’ new stadium when Sergio Aguero failed to slot home a penalty kick, and Pep Guardiola’s side were punished 12 minutes from time when Heung-Min Son kept the ball in play, worked an opening for himself and fired past Ederson. That strike gave Tottenham a 1-0 lead to take to Manchester for the return leg, but even though they were in front many expected City to turn around the tie, and they did run out winners on the night. However, a thrilling 4-3 victory that saw five goals in the opening 21 minutes was not enough, and it was Spurs who advanced to the semi-finals on away goals. They had VAR to thank for that though as it correctly cancelled out what would have been a last-gasp goal from Raheem Sterling that would have handed City a 5-4 aggregate success.

Semi-Finals – Tottenham Hotspur beat Ajax on away goals (3-3 aggregate)

Tottenham had avoided scares in both the group stage and the quarter-finals, and they must have been feeling pretty good about their chances after avoiding Liverpool and Barcelona in the draw. Ajax had already stunned Real Madrid and Juventus to get this far, but out of the three possible opponents Spurs could have faced they had to be considered the ‘easiest’ option. It was far from easy however. A 1-0 home defeat left Tottenham hanging by a thread and they looked to be finished in Europe when Ajax took a 2-0 lead inside the opening 35 minutes and a 3-0 lead on aggregate. Spurs did have ace in the pack though in the form of Lucas Moura – who had already shown in this competition that he could stage some late heroics. The Brazilian hauled his team back into the tie with two goals in the space of four minutes just before the hour mark, and just when it appeared as though that would not be enough, he popped up again in the 96th minute to complete his hat-trick and send Tottenham through to the final on away goals.

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