Here’s what happened in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, in case you missed it…
READ ALL ABOUT IT
WHAT STOOD OUT
A titanic tussle in Turin
What looked like was going to be a complete whitewash after only a few minutes – and appeared as though the two-legged, round of 16 series was essentially over – turned out to be an incredibly entertaining affair between Juventus and Tottenham in Turin, setting up an enticing return match in London on March 7.
The Serie A champions came out flying, with Gonzalo Higuain netting a brace in the opening nine minutes, including a sweet volley off a set piece that Spurs looked clueless in defending. Tottenham, though, would not be denied, as they quickly settled down and bossed the game in midfield, dominating possession, and taking advantage of Juventus uncharacteristically dropping back deep to defend.
Harry Kane’s goal on the 35-miute mark gave the Premier League club a lifeline, only for Juventus to earn a second penalty just before half. This time, Higuain could not convert, rattling his effort off the crossbar. That set the stage for Christian Eriksen’s heroics, with the Dane scoring on a cheeky free kick in the second half to tie the match.
While questions must be raised about the Italian outfit’s tactics (they were far too passive and showed their opponents too much respect), full credit must be given to Tottenham for not only staying in the game at 2-0 down, but the way in which they wrestled control away from Juventus on their home turf. On the balance of play, Spurs were the better side, and showed great spirit on the night to earn a marvelous result in Italy.
“We could’ve folded when 2-0 down away from home at this stage of the Champions League, big stage, but it just shows the character of the squad,” Kane told BT Sport after the match.
BEST MOMENT OF THE DAY
Harry Kane and Giorgio Chiellini show mutual respect for one another after the final whistle:
BEST GOAL OF THE DAY
Higuain’s opener was a sweet volley, but Ilkay Gundogan’s second for Manchester City was even better. The German took a pass from Sergio Aguero, glided towards a crowded penalty area, and curled his shot home after giving a Basel defender the slip. Sublime!
BEST TWEET OF THE DAY
“Let’s believe,” decried Juventus fans in this brilliant tifo display prior to kickoff in Turin:
THE GAME WITHIN THE GAME
Christian Eriksen was sensational on the night, using his ball-retention skills to bring teammates into the play, and playing a number of dangerous passes. Moussa Dembele’s contribution on the night should not be overlooked, though. The Frenchman was outstanding at both ends of the pitch, and played a pivotal role in Tottenham being able to dominate possession.
BURNING QUESTION OF THE DAY
SIX PACK OF STATS
• Gonzalo Higuain’s brace was the fastest scored by a Juventus player in Champions League/European Cup history (nine minutes).
• Harry Kane has equalled the record for the most goals scored by an English player in a single Champions League campaign (seven), tied with Steven Gerrard in 2008-09.
• Prior to Harry Kane’s goal, Gianluigi Buffon had not conceded in 694 consecutive minutes of action for Juventus and Italy.
• Manchester City have already won more games this season in all competitions (34) than they did in all of the 2016-17 campaign (33).
• Juventus have conceded two goals in a home Champions League game for the first time since February 2016 (2-2 against FC Bayern Munich).
• Harry Kane has scored more goals in his first nine Champions League appearances (nine) than any player in the history of the competition.
Stats courtesy of Opta
1) Christian Eriksen, Tottenham: A masterful performance from the Dane, who pulled the creative strings and scored the equalizer for Spurs.
2) Gonzalo Higuain, Juventus: Scored a pair of goals and was a constant thorn in Tottenham’s side, especially with his runs off the ball.
3) Ilkay Gundogan, Manchester City: Lots of Man City candidates to choose from, but the nod goes to the German who bagged a brace.