Sure, at the outset of this Champions League Round of 16 pairing, Tottenham were the clear underdogs. A perennial Europa League squad, Spurs were going up against six-time defending Serie A winners Juventus, a team that had made the Champions League final in two of the past three seasons. As exciting as Tottenham can be, a decisive loss wouldn’t have been anything to be ashamed of. But a 2-2 draw in Italy was a great first result, and at Wembley for the second leg today, a weird, badly hit goal from Son Heung-Min put Tottenham in prime position to advance further in the CL than they had since 2011.
After the goal, Tottenham continued to dominate throughout the whole first hour of the game, producing several solid chances while holding Juve to zero shots on target. Then, in a span of three minutes, they lost it all. First, a goal from Gonzalo Higuaín gave Juventus hope in the 64th minute.
And in the 67th, Paulo Dybala broke through a too-aggressive high defensive line to get what would hold up as the winner.
Spurs couldn’t grab that second goal that would’ve sent the game into extra time. An agonizingly close header from an offside Harry Kane (which would have sparked a whole other conversation had it gone in) bounced off the post and hung on the line before Juventus got it cleared off. That was the best they could do.
It’s especially tough to blame Tottenham too much for losing to a more talented, more accomplished team. Still, with less than a half hour to go, while holding a two-goal cushion, victory should be expected of any worthwhile side. It was a match perfectly set up for the Kane/Alli/Pochettino era of Spurs to separate themselves from all the club’s heartbreaking history, but instead the team wound up reinforcing that age-old storyline. Tottenham are still Tottenham, the club that can never win the big match, and Juventus remain one of the best in the world.