Let’s take a look at some of the main causes of discussion from last night’s Champions League Round of 16 first-leg clash between Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus and Mauricio Pochettino’s, who played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Allianz Stadium.
Lilywhites Claim Crucial Away Goals
With things now evenly poised head into next month’s return leg at Wembley Stadium, there is little doubting that yesterday evening’s visitors would have much preferred the eventual scoreline rather than a goalless draw or low-scoring one.
This is, of course, because of UEFA’s away goals rule, meaning that strikes notched on the road in either the first or second legs will count for double should 180 minutes and extra-time not be enough to separate the two teams.
While their comeback on leg one was impressive, it’s the goals they scored in it which will count for more in a tie that is expected to go down to the wire with a place in the Quarter-Finals at stake.
Those very strikes were netted by postman Harry Kane and creative Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen either side of half-time, however, they will need to defend better at home, or their precious away goals may be rendered useless in the end.
Higuain Carries On Red-Hot Form
With much of the attention on the visitors’ efforts in Italy, there can be no understating that of Juve’s Argentine International and club-record striker Gonzalo Higuain.
Going into the affair, the physical front man had netted six in four matches in all competitions, he now has a staggering eight in five, ramping up his total for the season to 20.
The former Real Madrid star struck twice inside the first ten minutes in Turin, the first coming in the form of a stunning volley from a clipped Miralem Pjanic free-kick and the second a coolly converted penalty past Hugo Lloris after Ben Davies’ foul on Federico Bernarderschi.
But, Higuain also had two golden opportunities to grab his hat-trick and put the game beyond Spurs in theory, the second of those came from the penalty spot in the wake of Serge Aurier hauling Douglas Costa down, he stepped up and smashed the ball against the bar and back out again, the miss could prove critical for his team in the long-run.
Eriksen Magic Proves Juve Blow
Of the Lilywhites’ two away notches, the latter of them which made the scoreline 2-2 with 71 minutes on the clock, far out-weighed the former in terms of wow-factor at the Allianz.
After Lloris had managed to make a series of impressive saves to keep the North London club in the affair, they then went in search of a leveller and finally found one through Eriksen.
Midfielder Dele Alli, who had been criticised for his role in the hosts taking the lead, won a free-kick off Giorgio Chiellini on the edge of the area, with his playmaker teammate lining it up.
Cleverly, Eriksen decided to go under the wall instead of over it, catching veteran Gianluigi Buffon by surprise, he was unable to stop the ball from finding the bottom corner, the moment of pure wizardry may prove crucial in terms of Tottenham’s European dreams.
Kane Shines Once More On European Stage
Although before any of that could happen, the foundations for the away side’s comeback had to be laid and there would only be one man up to the task of doing that.
Harry Kane, the star currently setting alight word Football with his record-breaking form, pulled a detrimental goal back in the first period, the first real sign of Juventus wobble.
Having already been denied from close-range by Buffon once, the England skipper was played clean through by fellow Three Lions man Alli, rounding the legendary shot-stopper and finishing calmly into an empty net, much to the delight of his travelling supporters.
Remarkably, it was his 37th of the campaign in all competitions, his seventh in the Champions League, only Cristiano Ronaldo has more in 2017/2018 in the tournament, Spurs fans will be hoping that he can keep this run up and that it provides the platform they need for European progression.
So, now that the matter of UCL football has been attended to for the next couple of weeks or so, let’ see who these two teams will be facing next as they turn their attention back to their domestic campaigns.
Allegri’s men are back in Serie A action next, a League that they are currently sitting in second in, a point behind Napoli, the club will travel to Torino on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Football’s oldest competition is next on the agenda for Pochettino’s side, the Emirates FA Cup, their opposition will be League One Rochdale in the Fifth-Round.
The much-anticipated second leg of this fixture will be played out in some three weeks from now (Wednesday 7 March 2018) at Wembley Stadium in West London and with a kick-off time of 7:45 PM GMT, join us then, once again to find out who will book a place in the last eight of Europe’s showcase competition.