Lucas Moura’s second half hat-trick in the Champions League semifinal at the Johan Cruyff Arena was one of the best moments that we as Spurs fans have experienced in many years.
The final whistle bought about a feeling of unadulterated joy and disbelief, as was evident from the players’ and Pochettino’s celebrations in the stadium.
However, also among the lasting images from the night will be that of the Ajax players crumbling to the floor from pure physical and emotional exhaustion.
Such is the range of emotions football can produce, Ajax midfielder Dusan Tadic has admitted that the memories of the semi-final still haunt him.
Speaking to The Telegraph, the 30-year-old said, “The memories still haunt me. It was the most difficult game of my career. It took a long time to recover. For weeks, I was thinking ‘how did that happen’? Why did that happen?
“We had everything in our hands. We won the first game 1-0, we are 2-0 up at half-time and we are almost in the final.
“We think, ‘OK, be sensible, carry on playing’ … you have to give a lot of credit to Tottenham, they kept coming, they showed their quality and, in that second half, Lucas Moura, everything went right for him … we had chances to score another goal.”
“I’ve watched the third goal a few times. So strange, so many small things went in their favour. The long ball, the bounce, a slip by Lisandro Magallan, even then, the shot, it is going to go straight, but the ball takes a little deflection off [Matthijs] De Ligt and that takes it into the corner.”
Unfortunately for Tottenham, they didn’t quite have the fairytale ending they were hoping for in the final as Liverpool lifted the trophy after a 2-0 win.
Tadic said that while watching the final, he couldn’t help but think that the Dutch Champions would have given the Reds a tougher game.
He added, “I tried to watch the final, but switched it off. It was such a terrible game, probably one of the worst Champions League finals … most people at Ajax, they did not even bother to watch.
“They could not bear it. All I thought was that we would have played better [than Spurs]. We would have given Liverpool a tough game. That didn’t help me heal, thinking it should have been us.”
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While Tadic’s claims will probably get on Spurs’ fans nerve, in fairness even we know that we were quite poor in the final. However, to suggest that Ajax might have done better is complete conjuncture and football does not work that way.
To be fair to Pochettino’s men, it was their first big final and unless players have experience of those kinds of matches, the pressure might be hard to handle. Liverpool also lost in the final the year before and used that experience to manage the game better in Madrid.
While the performance on the day was completely flat, the experience of the occasion will help the players the next time they are involved in a game of a similar magnitude.
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