Football Article

UEFA Champions League: Tottenham Hotspurs Seal Semi-Final Spot, Liverpool to Take on Barcelona

UEFA Champions League: Tottenham Hotspurs Seal Semi-Final Spot, Liverpool to Take on Barcelona Photo: TT
Spurs Lost to City But Still Qualified for the Semi-Final

Going into the second leg in Turin, the Bianconerri held all the cards; they had an away goal, they had home advantage and they had Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Amsterdam club tore the script up. The early exchanges were quite even, with both sides feeling each other out, but then almost at the half an hour mark, the home took the lead.

From a corner, Ronaldo drifted unmarked and powered his header into the goal, Juventus, now led 2-1 in the tie. However, the four time champions of Europe struck back soon after, as Riyad Ziyech scuffed his shot, it somehow found it’s way to teammate Donny Van De Beek, and he calmly slotted the ball. The game and the tie was now level at 2-2.

Ajax then started to dominate possession, the play and the chances and had two guilt edge chances to go ahead, but Juventus’s goalkeeper Wojniech Szczesny pulled off stunning saves, firstly from Ziyech and then from Van de Beek. However, Ajax would indeed take the lead in the tie and it was scored by their 19-year old captain Matthijs De Ligt.

In the 67th minute, from a corner, he leaped over everyone in the Juventus penalty box and headed the ball down and it rocketed into the net. Even after going behind, Juventus did nothing to rectify the deficit and the away side were the one most likely to score, but they did not need too as the match ended and they were through to the semi-finals!

It is the first time Ajax has reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League since 1997.

Barcelona vs Manchester United :

Another Messi masterclass…It was the Mancurians that nearly scored early on as Marcus Rashford skimmed the bar in just the first minute. However, it was all the Catalans thereafter. Ashley Young lost the ball on the edge of his box under the home team’s press, the ball found it’s way to Messi, and the Argentine curled in a lovely effort into the goal.

Soon after, the home side doubled their lead and it was Messi again, but this was down to Manchester United’s goalkeeper Davide De Gea blunder, as he failed to save a weak right footed shot and the ball rolled into the net.It was 3-0 by the hour mark, as Philippe Coutinho got in on the act. He collected the ball, surged forward and unleashed and unstoppable shot into the top corner and it was game, set & match.

Porto vs Liverpool :

A thoroughly dominant performance from last year’s finalist in Portugal…The home side having lost the 1st leg at Anfield 0-2 had to come out and try and impose themselves and they were the better team, but failed to convert the chances that they did create, and they were made to pay for that. Sadio Mane opened the scoring for the away side as he tapped in from close range from a Mohammed Salah pass. They doubled their lead just after the hour mark as Salah scored on a break-away with a cool finish past Iker Casillas. Porto got one back soon after, as Eder Militao headed an Andrea Telles cross, but it would be just a mere consolation, as Liverpool scored twice more on the night. Firstly, Roberto Firmino with a header and then Virgil Van Dijk with a close range effort, after meeting a Mane flick on from a corner.

Manchester City vs Tottenham :

High drama in one of the games of the season…This game had five goals in the opening 21 minutes of play as both teams went all out attack and thrilled the neutrals. Firstly, the home side leveled the tie, as Raheem Streling curled in a fantastic shot from just inside the box, but there was much more to come.A couple of minutes later and Spurs were all square on the night as Son Heung-Min shot from just eight yards out, it went straight at the Manchester City goalie Ederson, but somehow the Brazilian allowed the ball to roll under him and into the goal. Incredibly, the Londoners took the lead as Son again, this time with a wonderful curling effort that went into the top corner.

Again though, the home team scored, as Bernardo Silva took a shot that took a wicked deflection off Danny Rose and trickled into the goal past Hugo Loris. Sterling scored again as he ghosted unmarked into the penalty box, met a Kevin De Bruyne low cross and guided the ball home.

In the second half, Tottenham were much more contented to sit deep and try and hit on the counter, as it was the home team that needed to score. Their rearguard was broken at the hour mark, as Sergio Aguero beat Loris with a shot at his near post that he should have done better. It was now Manchester City that was leading in the tie and heading into the last four.

Things changed again soon after, and it was Tottenham that went ahead in the tie again; from a corner, the ball hit Fernando Llorente and went into the goal. However, the referee was alerted by the VAR officials of a possible handball on the play, he went over to the screen, had a look and confirmed the goal, and again, it was Spurs who had one foot in the semi-finals, but there would be one final act in this play.

Sterling scored again in the third minute of stoppage time, which would have put his team through, however, yet again, the VAR officials had a check and ruled it out for offside. In the build up to the play, it was clear that Aguero was ahead of the Tottenham defense after being put through by De Bruyne and the travelling Spurs fans celebrated with delirium. The final whistle came soon after, and Spurs were in the first semi-finals in the competition since 1962.

So the last four is set:

Ajax takes on Tottenham while Barcelona will be up against Liverpool.

Rajeev mcallister
Sports Pundit staff writer

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