The final 3-3 aggregate scoreline seemed unfathomable 35 minutes in, when Ajax moved two goals ahead on the night courtesy of Matthijs de Ligt’s header and Hakim Ziyech’s fine strike, but a stunning Lucas Moura hat-trick turned the night around in spectacular style, with Spurs winning thanks to the away goals rule.
As the game moved into the final minute of stoppage time with the game poised at 2-2 on the night, Moura produced his final moment of magic to send Tottenham through and leave the young Ajax side stunned, and football fans — and commentators — delirious.
Coming back from a three-goal deficit to inflict a stunning 4-3 defeat on the Catalans, it had shades of the northwest club’s famous 2005 Champions League final win over AC Milan, in which it came back from three goals at half time to stun the Italians in a penalty shootout to raise the cup for the fifth time.
The Champions League heroics were the icing on the week which began with Manchester City’s stunning rescue in the English Premier League, at the unlikely hands of captain Vincent Kompany.
The club legend is known as a stalwart defender, but it was at the other end of the pitch that he made the difference — his wonder strike against Leicester, a screamer from outside the box into the top right hand corner — looked all but set for City to retain the Premier League title under Pep Guardiola.
Kompany said he’d been telling people for years that he’d score a goal “like that” — a potential candidate for goal of the season — and it could prove decisive to Manchester club lifting the trophy come this weekend.
Can the momentum be sustained?
English clubs’ European adventures continue Thursday evening, with both Chelsea and Arsenal vying for a spot in the Europa League final. The two London clubs each hold a respective advantage — Chelsea scored a potentially decisive away goal against Eintracht Frankfurt in its 1-1 first-leg draw ahead of the return fixture at Stamford Bridge — while Arsenal came from behind to wrap up a 3-1 first-leg win over Valencia to give it a slim cushion for the other semifinal second leg in Spain.
If the cards fall right for the two English Premier League teams, and they come through the Thursday night games triumphant, they will meet in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 29 — just days before the all-English Champions League final at Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium.
If it comes to pass, it would be an unprecedented display of strength from a single country — no domestic league has ever provided all four finalists for Europe’s top two competitions.
Curtain call on thrilling season
Before the European showcases, however, the incredible English Premier League week will culminate Sunday, when the league wraps with all 20 teams simultaneously kicking off at 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m ET).
City’s Monday night triumph kept it in pole position for the Premier League title, one point clear of Liverpool, which has kept the pressure up on its title rivals in its dogged pursuit of first a title since 1990.
Few would bet against City putting Brighton to the sword on Sunday to retain its crown, especially with Liverpool handed a trickier draw against Wolves, which sit in seventh place after a surprisingly robust season, including wins against Chelsea, Spurs, Man United and Arsenal.
Next year’s Champions League places, awarded to the top four finishers, are all but decided, with City, Liverpool and Chelsea guaranteed the top three slots.
But Arsenal fans will be hoping a high-scoring away win at Burnley, coupled with a Spurs collapse at home against Everton will see the Gunners pip fourth on goal difference and leapfrog its arch rival into the final Champions League spot.
A back door to Europe for the north London teams, should either finish in fifth, could come in the form of winning their current European competition — the Champions League for Spurs; Europa League for Arsenal — as the cup winners are given an automatic bye to next season’s premier European football competition.