To say that Tottenham’s pursuit of Champions League glory has been a rollercoaster ride would be quite the understatement.
From their very first Group Stage game away to Inter Milan back in the hazy days of September through to THAT semi-final second-leg against Ajax, Spurs supporters, players, and manager Mauricio Pochettino have been through a whirlwind of emotions with unrelenting drama, early set-backs, and last-gasp goals.
So much so in fact that the club was on the brink of elimination from Europe’s elite competition for a stonking grand total 354 minutes, from the second PSV clash through to the final whistle at the Johan Cruyff Arena last month.
We break down the digits below...
1. Tottenham 2-1 PSV
In Tottenham’s first Group Stage game they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory after they leaked in two late goals to Inter Milan. This was followed by a 4-2 loss at home to Barcelona, then a 2-2 draw at PSV, who grabbed an equaliser with three minutes left on the clock.
This meant they realistically had to beat the same Dutch opponents on home soil, or at the very least draw. Spurs suffered a nightmare start after de Jong put the visitors ahead in the second minute. A tortuous period followed, when finally Harry Kane drew the hosts level in the 78th minute, before bagging a dramatic equaliser in the 89th minute.
Eliminated for 76 minutes
2. Tottenham 1-0 Inter Milan
Next up was a nervous clash at home to Inter Milan, who were three points better off in second at this stage. Spurs simply had to win, and they did just that...just...as Christian Eriksen found the back of the net with just 10 minutes left on the clock, much to the relief of the home support.
Eliminated for 80 minutes
3. Barcelona 1-1 Tottenham
Barcelona had already secured their passage through to the last-16 as group winners, meaning second spot was between Spurs and Inter. So to put it simply Pochettino’s men needed to match or better Inter’s result at home to eliminated PSV.
It was another poor start for Spurs who fell behind to Barcelona after seven minutes. With Inter’s game level they were heading out for all of six minutes, until PSV went ahead at the San Siro in the 13th minute. With both clubs losing, Spurs would still be going through in 2nd place, however in the 73rd minute Inter forced an equaliser against PSV, only for Spurs to draw level against Barcelona 12 minutes later. Both games ended 1-1 meaning Spurs squeaked through to the knockout stages.
Eliminated for 19 minutes
4. Tottenham 1-0 Man City | Man City 4-3 Tottenham
Tottenham carved out a 1-0 win in the first-leg which saw Sergio Aguero miss a penalty, and Harry Kane hobble off injured. If that encounter lacked goals, the second-leg more than made up for it.
Raheem Sterling wiped Tottenham’s advantage after just four minutes, only for Son Heung-Min to fire back with a rapid brace in a frantic 10 minutes. However, City instantly fired back before Sterling grabbed his second in the 21st minute, although at this point Spurs were still going through on the away goals rule.
Disaster then struck in the 59th minute when Aguero gave City a 4-2 lead on the night, and a 4-3 advantage on aggregate, meaning the Lilywhites were heading out.
But no, there was another twist 14 minutes later when Fernando Llorente scrambled home from a corner and Spurs held on, surviving a hugely dramatic moment in injury-time when Sterling thought he had won it for the Citizens, only for the goal to be ruled out a full minute late.
Eliminated for 14 minutes
5. Tottenham 0-1 Ajax | Ajax 2-3 Tottenham
Tottenham lost the first-leg 1-0, then endured a nightmare first 45 minutes of the return fixture as their Dutch opponents added two more to extend their advantage to 3-0. Erik ten Hag’s men were mesmerising at times, but they were eventually undone by Lucas Moura who orchestrated one of the most unexpected comebacks of all time.
The Brazilian pulled one back in the 55th minute, then drew his troops level on the night four minutes later, meaning Spurs had 30 minutes to find a goal. They somehow managed to keep Ajax at bay, while Llorente hit the bar. Then, in astonishing style, Moura bagged his hat-trick 12 seconds from time to send Spurs into the final.
You simply can’t write scripts like this.
Eliminated for 165 minutes