Tottenham Hotspur proved their mettle in Turin as they held Juventus on a 2-2 draw in the opening leg of their last-16 tie. Staging an incredible comeback after going 2-0 down inside nine minutes, Spurs kept pressing high and creating chances to ensure they go in the second leg at Wembley on away goals advantage. Manager Mauricio Pochettino who had earlier warned his side about Juventus’ Champions League pedigree and said that it will be a real test for them to see if they can compete against Europe’s elite, praised his team’s character as they came from 2 goals down to take control of the game.
Not many teams can do what the Spurs pulled off in Italy, Juventus failed to win a Champions League encounter at home only for the second time after taking a 2-0 lead in the game, the last time it happened was when Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United stopped the Italian giants from winning in 1999. Juventus squared off well, adapting the attack mode right from the first minute but it was Spurs who eventually showed their prowess. Gonzalo Higuaín was quick to find the back of the net as he netted a second-minute strike to put the Old Lady of Turin at advantage, he doubled the lead in the 9th minute but couldn’t do enough to down Tottenham’s amazing determination.
The prolific Harry Kane was at his business, going forward continuously toying around with the Juventus backline, he pulled one back in the 35th minute with a sublime display of skills as he floored veteran Gianluigi Buffon in goal. Higuain was gifted another penalty before half-time but to his utter dismay, Higuain failed to put it past Hugo Lloris as he kept his poise in the goal and denied Juventus a chance to take full control in the encounter. It was the stylish Dane Christian Eriksen who put the Spurs on level with the Serie A giants as he curled in a phenomenal free kick in the 72nd minute.
Tottenham Hotspur took the honours of becoming the first team ever to have wiped out a two-goal deficit at the Juventus (Allianz ) Stadium since the Italian champions move their base there in 2011. To make it a more incredible feat for the Spurs, they scored as many goals as Juventus had conceded in last 16 games.
The remarkable display put by Spurs was sure to impress manager Pochettino who had only encouraging words for his dominant side who had pulled off the unthinkable. “At 2-0 down my feeling was so bad,” Pochettino said. “We started sloppily. But we showed great character and I feel so proud. We are a young team in this competition. To show that kind of performance was fantastic.
“The energy was fantastic and it’s important to say we played with one day less [of rest]. Juventus played last Friday while we had the derby [against Arsenal on Saturday]. One day in this competition is a lot. The derby was emotional, you spend more energy. And at 2-0 you always need more energy,” he added.
Spurs were by far the better side on the pitch as they produced scintillating attacking display against arguably one of the best defensive side in the world. Pochettino was quick to ascertain that this was one of the finest performances by his Spurs side. Not just Tottenham dominated the proceedings they were also more threatening side inside the opponent box. For the Argentine manager to dominate Juventus in their own backyard was a sight to behold and he couldn’t stop himself from hailing his men.
“We dominated possession and forced them to play deeper and only use the counterattack. We were so focused. Only the opening minutes were difficult to handle. But after that we dominated Juventus and that is a thing to praise.
“Not many teams come here and dominate Juventus. We showed we are mature enough to compete in this competition. It is my fourth season at the club and we are always improving in different aspects.”