Ajax 2 Tottenham 3 (3-3 agg, Spurs win on away goals): Lucas treble sends Spurs through to maiden final

Lucas Moura's stunning hat-trick unseated Ajax's unlikely Champions League run and Tottenham will face Liverpool in the final.

Lucas Moura's second half treble powered Tottenham Hotspur to the Champions League final.   -  Getty Images

Lucas Moura's incredible second-half hat-trick saw Tottenham snatch a 3-2 win at Ajax and a place in the Champions League final on away goals.

As in last week's semifinal first leg, Erik ten Hag's side was smoothly into its work by the time inspirational captain Matthijs de Ligt headed a fifth-minute opener.

AS IT HAPPENED | Ajax 2-3 Tottenham

Hakim Ziyech made it 2-0 10 minutes before half-time but, in a season now steeped in implausible Champions League comebacks, Lucas' brace had the game all-square on the night before the hour.

Ziyech hit the post and Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen struck the crossbar before the irrepressible Lucas steered home Dele Alli's pass deep into stoppage time.

It means an all-English final against fellow comeback kings Liverpool in Madrid on June 1 for Mauricio Pochettino's never-say-die team.

De Ligt powered home Lasse Schone's early corner but Spurs' response was initially encouraging, with Son Heung-min almost catching out Andre Onana when he hit the base of the post.

READ | Pochettino refused to break Tottenham contract to join Real Madrid

Ajax appeared to have a foot in the final when Donny van de Beek and Dusan Tadic combined in slick fashion on the break, with the latter teeing up Ziyech to finish emphatically.

Onana made a stunning reaction save from Alli eight minutes into the second half but had no chance when Lucas darted beyond Schone's challenge to reduce the arrears.

Fernando Llorente was then thwarted from point-blank range by Onana but, like Hugo Lloris before him, his defence could not bail him out and Lucas showcased brilliant footwork to create space and dispatch a shot in a packed penalty area.

READ | Champions League: How Lucas Moura became a Tottenham hero

Ziyech was inches away from his second in the 61st minute and the chaotic feel continued as De Ligt denied Lucas a quickfire hat-trick before testing Lloris at the other end.

Moroccan Ziyech hit the upright and tested Lloris one last time either side of Vertonghen heading a set piece against his former club's bar, but it was Lucas who produced the devastating final twist.

 

The numbers behind Tottenham's incredible Champions League win

1 – Tottenham reached its first European Cup/Champions League final.

2 – It became just the second team in Champions League history to reach the final after losing the first leg of a semi at home, joining Ajax (1995-96 against Panathinaikos).

3 – June's final will be the third major European decider featuring two English teams, after the 1972 UEFA Cup final between Spurs and Wolves and the 2008 Champions League decider between Manchester United and Chelsea.

4 – De Ligt, 19, became the fourth teenager to score in a Champions League semi-final, joining Nordin Wooter (Ajax, 1996), Obafemi Martins (Inter, 2003) and Kylian Mbappe (Monaco, 2017).

5 – Lucas became the fifth player to score a Champions League semifinal hat-trick and first since Ronaldo for Real Madrid against Atletico in May 2017.

7 – English teams have come from two or more goals behind to win on seven occasions in Champions League history, four more than clubs of any other nation.

8 – Spurs will be the eighth different English team to feature in a European Cup or Champions League final.

55 – Ajax star Dusan Tadic has been involved in 55 goals in 54 games in all competitions this season.

0 – Ajax has won none of its past eight home Champions League knockout matches, a run stretching back to 1996.

 

What does it mean? Tottenham, Tottenham… no one can stop it?

Spurs thought it was out amid unbelievable drama at Manchester City, only for VAR to deny Raheem Sterling a hat-trick. Since that night of rattling disorientation at the Etihad Stadium, Pochettino's men have lost four of five matches and appeared to be running on empty. Somehow, through force of will and no little talent, it made it. Perhaps Liverpool will start to worry the Londoner's name is on the trophy.

Lucas and Llorente prove unlikely double act

Spurs' Brazilian forward will rightly get the plaudits and all three of his finishes were clinical. But the often-maligned Llorente is also worthy of huge praise after coming on at half-time to disrupt and unsettle the Ajax backline. Harry Kane has his work cut out to get a shirt for the final!

Lasse gets Schone up by Tottenham fightback

The reliable, experienced head in an ebullient, youthful Ajax line-up, the 32-year-old Schone was found badly wanting as Spurs got itself back into the game. Ten Hag decided to send on Joel Veltman in his place at 2-2 and its earlier fluency never returned.

What's next

Ajax must refocus on a domestic double when it faces Utrecht in the Eredivisie on Sunday, when Spurs will be forgiven for being distracted in its final Premier League assignment of 2018-19 at home to Everton.

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