AMSTERDAM: Lucas Moura, Tottenham’s hat-trick hero in their spectacular Champions League defeat of Ajax, identified belief as his team’s most powerful weapon.
Spurs were three goals down on aggregate at half-time in the Johan Cruyff Arena but turned the tie on its head with two quicksilver strikes after the break and then a last-minute winner deep into stoppage time.
The Brazilian said: “Impossible to explain what I’m feeling. I’m very happy and very proud of my team-mates. Always believe in this moment. We gave everything on the pitch and deserved this moment – we are family. Impossible to explain. Big gift from God I’d like to share with team-mates, friends and family.
“It’s about not only me but my team-mates and teamwork. Everyone worked really hard. Too difficult to play here against Ajax but I always believed in my team-mates. Even without key players we did really well. We need to fight in every game like this.
“The football is amazing – it gives us a moment like this. We cannot imagine. The best moment in my life – in my career. I only need to say thank you to my team-mates.”
Manager Mauricio Pochettino said: “The emotion is amazing, thank you to football. My players are heroes – in the last year I was telling everyone this group are heroes. The second half they were amazing. Thank you football – this type of emotion without football is no possible. Thank you to everyone who has believed in us. To describe this in words is difficult.
“We were talking before the game that when you work and when you feel the love it’s not stress it’s passion of the team. We showed we love the sport and football. Today was amazing. It was a joy to watch this kind of game.
“It’s difficult to compete at this level. I am so grateful to be a coach. To be in football and to live this type of football.
“They are all heroes but [Lucas Moura] was a superhero. From the first to last one – the tough moment to live in the five years before.
“I want to remember my family… it’s amazing to reward them. We need to be ready for the next game on Sunday then prepare for the final.”
Playmaker Christian Eriksen, one of three former Ajax players lining up for Spurs, said: “It was a ridiculous game, we were really far down, we tried to fight back, we were just lucky, I feel sorry for Ajax, they played a very good game against us, today we mostly created more chance, football they played better, it is relief, we have been fighting for this, it is a dream to be in the final.
“We felt like we weren’t able to look ourselves in the mirror if we were to go down three or four nil. We had to fight, we scored early to get some momentum, put them under pressure. We are lucky the ball falls in the right direction, Luca had a wonderful game we are relieved
“Today it was non tactical, more of a fight and a heart performance, heart and Lucas Moura, he’s how we won the game, he deserves it, rollercoaster of a season, for him to get us in the final, I hope he gets a statue in England after this, we are blown away, no real words for it, I feel sorry for Ajax, in the end think about ourselves, not deserve it more, got there in the end.”
Full-back Danny Rose said: “We saw Liverpool last night. It goes to show it’s not over until it’s over. Disappointed with the first leg how we started and we started like that tonight. But after the break we came out.
“The gaffer mentioned Liverpool’s display at the hotel before the match – the gaffer doesn’t mind us losing but we have to lose the right way.
“We’re lucky we’ve gone through and we look forward to the Champions League final.”
Injured captain Harry Kane gave the team a pep talk at half-time and raced on to the pitch to join the celebrations at the final whistle.
He said: “It was amazing. It was a disappointing first half and we let them play. I went into the dressing room at half time and we knew it wasn’t good enough. We said we had 45 minutes to give everything. When Lucas Moura scored the two you thought we would get another but then Jan Vertonghen hit the crossbar and we thought it might not be our day.
“I’m a fan first and foremost and I know how much it means to the club. The lads dug deep and showed passion and that is all you can ask for. We had to wait to get the third in the last minute and we found a way. That is what football is about and we have the final to come.”
On his availability for the final: “Rehab is going well. I start straight line running this week which is why I was OK to run on at the end. We beat Man City and Ajax so I have to start training even harder to prove myself to the gaffer.”
The Ajax players threw themselves to ground in despair at the final whistle.
Coach Erik ten Hag said: “We were so close, we had so deserved it, but that last second…
“I told the players in the break that it wasn’t over yet, you could tell by the attitude of the Tottenham players. They still believed in it.
“When that ball hits the post from Hakim Ziyech, it’s over and out for Spurs. But I can’t blame anyone. We have had an incredible Champions League season and have grown a lot as a team. It is difficult to process.”