Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Tottenham Hotspur (3) 1 – 2 (4) Juventus: Allegri’s substitutions perform perfectly to oust Spurs

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Juventus staged a dramatic comeback at Wembley Stadium to eliminate Tottenham Hotspur from the Champions League on Wednesday evening.

Spurs looked to have sealed their progression in an excellent first-half with Heung Min-Son finishing off a flowing move just before half-time. However, a much-improved performance and genius substitutions from Max Allegri flipped the tie on its head. Gonzalo Higuaín and Paulo Dybala struck with two quick-fire strikes to secure Juventus’ progression to the quarter-finals.

Wide open clash at Wembley

Tottenham started the game excellently and could well have been ahead within four minutes. Son found space on the left-flank and attempted to find the bottom corner but Gianluigi Buffon was equal to the South Korean’s effort.

Harry Kane also squandered a glorious opportunity as he was released beyond the Juventus defence and skipped around Buffon. The English forward however was not able to add to his league tally of 35 goals as he shot into the side-netting.

There were loud appeals for a penalty kick from Allegri’s men as Jan Vertonghen seemingly brought down Douglas Costa in the penalty area. The referee was unmoved though, leaving the Italian champions incensed.

Goals under threat but no opening

The match continued to be encapsulating and Spurs twice had the opportunity to go ahead. Son first attempted to head home at the back post only to be thwarted by a strong punch from Buffon. Christian Eriksen then tried his luck with a powerful, low drive but a great block from a Juventus body deflected the ball away from goal.

Son continued to threaten in behind the Juventus defence and a solid block from Giorgio Chiellini kept the scores level. Dele Alli also manufactured space just outside the penalty area but could only put a weak effort straight at Buffon.

Here comes the Son

With half-time edging ever closer, Son again spurned a wonderful opportunity as he raced away from the Juventus defence but could only drag his effort marginally wide of Buffon’s far post.

The 25-year-old did not have to wait much longer though as Mauricio Pochettino’s men were rewarded for their dominance. Alli powered towards goal only to get tackled and see the ball fall to Kieran Trippier. The defender fizzed the ball to Son, who with the help of a scuffed finish, nudged the ball into the net.

Miralem Pjanić and Alex Sandro both had opportunities to equalise in what was a difficult half for Juventus but they both sent the ball over the bar with a long-range effort and header respectively.

Juventus roar back after the break

Allegri opted for two changes on the hour mark and introduced Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah. It nearly paid dividends straight away through Dybala as the Argentine profited from indecision in the Tottenham defence but he could only blaze his effort wide.

Gonzalo Higuaín showed him how it was done with a deft, guided touch to equalise. Lichtsteiner found space on the right side and crossed to Sami Khedira. A flicked header from the German midfielder fell to Higuaín who finished expertly into the far corner.

Barely three minutes later, the ex-Real Madrid man played a key role again. Using his physicality, he slid Dybala through beyond the hosts’ defence with the youngster thundering the ball beyond Lloris and into the net to silence Wembley.

Spurs press but nothing gives

The Premier League outfit continued to press and hassle the Italian champions. Excellent last-ditch defending from Chiellini ensured the ball did not reach Kane. Eriksen also picked up the ball on the edge of the area but his goal-bound shot was deflected away.

Son also continued to trouble the Juventus defence and sent an effort just wide from distance as Tottenham looked to find an all-important equaliser.

It nearly came in the final minute as Kane leapt highest only to see the ball bounce off the post and onto the goal-line before it was somehow cleared away as Juventus celebrated a brilliant victory at Wembley Stadium.

Final Thoughts

It really seemed as though Tottenham had secured their progression to the final-eight following a wonderful first-half performance and were deservedly ahead through Son.

Allegri however has to be praised for his part and his substitutions which gave the Old Lady new verve and vigour. They performed admirably after that and defended heroically to ensure of their position in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Tottenham are now forced to focus on the FA Cup as their only possibility of silverware this season.

Match Report

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (6); Trippier (7), Sánchez (7), Vertonghen (6), Davies (6); Dembele (7), Dier (6) (Lamela (5), 74′); Eriksen (6), Alli (7) (Llorente (N/A), 86′), Son (8); Kane (7).

Juventus: Buffon (7); Barzagli (6); Benatia (5) (Lichtsteiner (7), 61′), Chiellini (8), Alex Sandro (7); Khedira (7), Pjanić (6), Matuidi (6) (Asamoah (7), 60′); Dybala (7), Costa (7), Higuaín (7) (Sturaro (N/A), 83′).

Goals: Son (39′), Higuaín (64′), Dybala (67′)

Referee: Szymon Marciniak

Yellow Cards: Vertonghen (28′), Alex Sandro (35′), Pjanić (44′), Benatia (49′), Chiellini (53′), Alli (56′), Dembele (88′)

Red Cards: N/A

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is currently a second-year football journalism student at the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately four years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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