LONDON: Tottenham’s competitive innocence in the Champions League proved fatal as they lost their lead, their focus and ultimately their second round tie against Juventus writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Spurs led 1-0 at half-time and thus 3-2 on aggregate but the Italian champions reorganised, struck twice on the break and – in historically characteristic style – resisted ruthlessly to reach the quarter-finals 4-3 on aggregate.
In the night’s other game Manchester City qualified for the quarter-finals, despite losing 2-1 at home to Basel, by 5-2 on aggregate.
At Wembley two Juventus goals in three minutes after the break from Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala upset Tottenham though the hosts went teasingly close to forcing extra-time when Harry Kane hit a post with a minute to play.
Disappointed Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “In less than three minutes we conceded two goals, (we made) two big mistakes – and that is why we are out of the competition. But at the same time I think we were in both legs, in both games we were the better team.
“We conceded and I think it was just two mistakes in the game. But they have quality and if you make a mistake they will score. I feel proud…we were the better team. Of course I’m disappointed but it is a part of growing. For us it was tough but a fantastic experience for us.”
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini said: “We believed in the win. We knew about the fantastic players at Tottenham, Harry Kane, (Christian) Eriksen, Dele Alli, Son…it’s an amazing side and they conceded many chance in every game and at the end of the first half, we believed it.
“We said ‘keep calm and the chances surely would arrive’. We had to be concentrated and score when we had the chance, we did it.”
A minute’s silence was observed before kickoff to Davide Astori, the Fiorentina captain who died on Sunday.
Chiellini said: “We dedicate this to him, not only this match but every mind on this day. I cried many times. He was a fantastic player. It was very difficult during the match because we had to think of the game and the outcome and it’s not easy. But he’s always in our heart.
“It’s difficult but we have to continue our life and I think for us it’s important for the national team and always in our heart, always bring his positive emotion – he always smiled – and it’s important in the group more than his appearance and we would like to continue with his smile in our hearts.”