Champions League 2018/19: 3 reasons why Tottenham beat Ajax
Football, wow. What can you say after that rollercoaster of a game? After Liverpool’s remarkable 4-0 win over Barcelona last night to send them into the Champions League final, Tottenham pulled off an equally miraculous result tonight, coming from 2-0 down against Ajax – 3-0 on aggregate – to win the second leg of their semi-final tie 2-3, sending them into the final on away goals.
Early on it didn’t look like Spurs’ night as Ajax outplayed them throughout the first half, slicing their defence open to score two scarily easy goals, but things changed in the second half thanks to a ton of heart, desire – and a pretty special substitution.
Here are 3 reasons why Tottenham beat Ajax.
#1 Fernando Llorente changed the game
Despite losing the first leg 0-1, Tottenham were able to largely dominate the second half by switching to a more physical style, but that didn’t seem to be an option in the first half with an attacking duo of Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son. Evidently, Mauricio Pochettino realised this too, and at half-time he switched Victor Wanyama for Fernando Llorente, moving essentially to a 4-3-3, and it changed the game entirely.
Suddenly, Spurs were able to hit long balls up to the big Spaniard, who absolutely dominated in the air and gave Daley Blind all kinds of trouble. In turn, Llorente was able to find his teammates with knockdowns consistently, and with the extra space that opened up, Kieran Trippier was given more room to create problems on the right-hand side of the pitch.
The momentum of the game then completely shifted, and despite Ajax having some dangerous attacks, it always felt like Tottenham were in the game. And their second and third goals both came from long balls, with the second coming via an attack from the right, too. Too many times we’ve seen Pochettino criticised this season for having no options from the bench, but tonight he made a truly game-changing substitution.