Ajax and Tottenham figured to be hard-pressed to replicate the drama that took place at Anfield on Tuesday, but they might have found a way to surpass it.
Ajax seemed to be in control of their Champions League semifinal after first-half goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech, but Tottenham stunned the Dutch side to reach its first Champions League final after Lucas Moura’s second-half hat trick–with his final goal coming in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time to give Spurs a 3-2 win on the day and a 3-3 aggregate draw that saw the club through on the away goal tiebreaker.
Ajax, which held a 1-0 lead after the first leg in London, was forced into a change just before the first kick, with dynamic but injured Brazilian forward David Neres withdrawn from the starting lineup in place of Kasper Dolberg–a significant shift for the hosts.
That didn’t seem to impact Ajax’s attack for the worse. The hosts pressured in the opening minutes, having a pair of shots blocked in the third minute. A minute later, Dusan Tadic unleashed a shot earmarked for the far netting, only to have Hugo Lloris make a sensational save.
Ajax struck on the ensuing corner kick, with de Ligt, the club’s 19-year-old captain, heading home another key goal on the Champions League stage. This one gave Ajax a 1-0 lead on the day, 2-0 on aggregate.
Tottenham came close to providing an immediate answer, but Son Heung-min’s tight-angled chance hit off the left post, with the carom managing to stay clear of another Tottenham player, which allowed Ajax to end the threat.
Ajax managed to add to its advantage soon after, though. Ziyech finished off a lovely sequence with a powerful, curling, left-footed blast that beat Lloris to give Ajax a 2-0 lead on the day and 3-0 on aggregate.
Tottenham came out of the halftime break looking to work its way back into the tie, and it nearly did just that in the 54th minute. Eriksen picked out Dele Alli, and only an acrobatic save from Onana kept the English star from getting Tottenham on the board.
Moura shrunk that number to one just four minutes later. Like Georginio Wijnaldum did for Liverpool a day earlier, the Brazilian hit for a quick double, pouncing on a rebound after Onana had done well to instinctively deny Fernando Llorente’s chance from the doorstep. With the score 2-2 on the day and Ajax’s lead down to 3-2 on aggregate, Tottenham pulled within a goal of going through with plenty of time to spare.
Ziyech nearly scored a second of his own to calm Ajax’s nerves, but the Moroccan international hit the right post with his low blast from 18 yards, keeping Tottenham in the game in the 79th minute.
A late set piece nearly tilted the scales in Tottenham’s favor. Jan Vertonghen, whose head injury in the first leg was the focus of much controversy, had two chances cleared off the line following a corner kick, first from Onana and then again from Joel Veltman on the rebound, allowing Ajax to hold onto its lead by the slimmest of margins.
Lloris then did his part to keep Tottenham alive in stoppage time, denying Ziyech with a superb diving save as the seconds ticked away on the semifinal.
That saved proved invaluable, as Moura capped his hat trick with a stunning goal at the death. The Brazilian beat Onana in the final seconds of stoppage time, giving Tottenham a 3-2 lead on the day and sending the club through on the away goal tiebreaker.