Lucas Moura has opened up on the feeling of ecstasy after scoring a hat-trick in the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 to send his side through to Madrid, contrasting to the feeling of agony he felt at being left on the bench for the final.
The miracle of Amsterdam back in 2019 will live long in the memories of the Tottenham players and fans. The North London club looked down and out at half-time at Johan Cruyff Arena as they found themselves 3-0 down on aggregate.
What followed was a special 45 minutes where Moura, who scored a sensational hat-trick to send the club through to their first-ever Champions League final.
The Tottenham winger has now opened up to The Players Tribune on the events of that night in Amsterdam and the pure elation he and his teammates felt after full-time.
He said: “For the quarterfinals draw in 2019, Julio Cesar was the one picking the balls out of the jar. When he chose Manchester City to play us, I texted him like, ‘Come on, man. Why did you have to do that?’ He was like, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll go through.’
“Once we survived the City tie, I was convinced we’d make the final. But Ajax were the sensations of the tournament, and we lost 1–0 at home. After the game I went over to our fans and shouted, ‘Come on, believe! Believe!!’
“Then we travel to Amsterdam and go 2–0 down at half-time … hahahaha!
Man … 3–0 on aggregate. We were done. Toast. But I don’t know why, I just kept believing it was possible. Pochettino told us, ‘One goal, guys. One goal and we’re back in the match.’
“We were all over them in the second half. Then I somehow scored twice in five minutes. I was thinking, We’ll make it now!! There’s no other way!!!
“But the minutes passed and the ball didn’t go in. They hit the post, Hugo made a huge save and the crowd wanted the game to be over. In the final seconds, I just thought about staying near the box, because maybe the ball would drop for me.
“I don’t know how Dele saw me, but suddenly the ball was right in front of me, and man, I swear, I had one single thought. I’m going to kick it. That was it!! I’m going to kick it. Doesn’t matter if I hit the grass or the defender’s foot, just kick the thing!!
“The ball deflects off a defender and goes in. I don’t even know what more to say…. For sure, you cannot think clearly in a moment like that. There is this explosion of emotions inside of you that you don’t know how to handle. I didn’t know how to celebrate.
“When the game was over, I just fell to the floor and cried. I thanked God. I felt this huge sense of gratitude as if I had received an enormous gift. Everyone came over and hugged me. Inexplicable, man. Seriously, I don’t know how it happened. Ask him (God).
“When I got to the dressing room there were bottles flying in the air, water on the floor, teammates jumping around and smashing the table. Then I got on the team bus and called Larissa, who was pregnant with our second child, Pedrinho. She was in tears.
“I called my family in Brazil, too, and everyone was wearing Spurs shirts, crying and celebrating. It was impossible to sleep that night. Impossible. My mind went back to those six months at PSG. Then an angel appeared next to me and said, ‘See? He had a plan all along.'”
However, the final did not prove to be the fairytale either Tottenham or Moura would have been hoping for. The former PSG man did not make the starting eleven and only came on 66th minute as Spurs were beaten 2-0 by Liverpool.
The Brazilian opened up on his disappointment at hearing that he would not start in Madrid that night.
He added: “I was told just before we left the hotel. To be benched for the Champions League final was like getting cold water poured down my neck. But I didn’t want to ruin our team spirit, so I stayed quiet. Also, I was sure I’d come on. I had just scored a hat trick, right?
“Finals are hard, man. Often they end up being ugly. Liverpool had a great team, let’s not forget that. So the game was disappointing, but what can you do? Football … right? Football.
“When I bump into fans in the streets, they talk about the Ajax game, and then it’s always, ‘You should have started the final.’ But at least I got to the final. Many players don’t even get to play in the Champions League. So I choose to be grateful. I still have my medal.”
Spurs Web Opinion
It is difficult to be too critical of Pochettino for his decision to start Kane over Moura. Once the striker declared himself fit for the final, the Argentine really had little choice but to start him. Pochettino would have also been criticised if he had left Kane on the bench and Spurs had lost.
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