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Pochettino: Tottenham Champions League finalists are “superheroes”

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Not all heroes wear capes!

Ajax v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: Second Leg Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

What a match! Tottenham Hotspur got a second half hat trick from Lucas Moura and stormed back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to beat Ajax at the Johann Cruyff Stadium and advance to the Champions League finals. The final aggregate score was 3-3, with Spurs advancing on away goals.

It was an incredible moment — Moura’s third came in the 95th minute and with virtually the last kick of the match, sending the Tottenham players rushing to the corner flag to celebrate, and leaving a visibly emotional Mauricio Pochettino to try and make sense of what just happened in his post-match press conference.

A visibly weepy Pochettino called his players “superheroes.”

“It’s difficult to describe my feelings and my emotions in words. I think it’s one of the most important nights in my life. How the game finished, everything that happened, the first half, how we planned to play, how the plan was done after three minutes when we conceded the goal, I think everything was amazing. The second half, we planned to make some changes, and started to play different alternatives. Always believe. Never give up.

“A lot more is in my head, but the most important thing I want to say is to congratulate my players. They owned the football, they delivered a great job. For me, they are heroes. I’ve told you the last six months, I repeat this sentence. I think they are superheroes now.

“To get the club to the final of the Champions League I think is very close to a miracle. No one believed in us from the beginning of the season. We are so close to the top four and have the opportunity in Madrid to play in the final against Liverpool. It is an amazing season in our new home. This chapter that we’re going to close now, until the 1st of June [the date of the Champions League final], it can be amazing to close the chapter playing a final. If we win it should be an amazing book.”

Tottenham’s run to the finals has been anything but dull. Their squad, undermanned, ravaged by injury, and always seemingly on the verge of elimination, has come back again and again, usually with late drama and match winners.

And Tottenham’s win over Ajax was historic in another way — not only is it the first time Spurs have advanced this far into the competition, but it’s apparently also an historic comeback against an Ajax team that just doesn’t do this at home.

Pochettino noted the mentality of his team, the way they fought back to do something no Spurs team has ever done in their history, even when they went into halftime somewhat unfairly down by three goals on aggregate.

“We didn’t deserve in the first half to go into the dressing room 2-0 down. We created a lot of chances but we didn’t score. It was cruel because we planned to play and we conceded a goal from a set-piece. The second goal, after a counter-attack, was so cruel, and a little bit unfair.

“We talked a lot about how we needed to keep going, keep playing. It was Wanyama out and Llorente in, we tried to find different alternatives. We forced them to go deeper, and the second half we fully deserved the victory and fully deserved to be in the final. It is so fair. Ajax is a great team, was a great opponent. I want to congratulate them. But I think Tottenham today deserved to be in the final.”

Attention now turns to Sunday’s Premier League match against Everton, with Spurs needing to not lose and give up their 8 goal differential lead over Arsenal, but you can perhaps forgive this team of superheroes, these Champions League Avengers, if they now have one eye firmly fixed on their final match of the season against Liverpool on June 1 at the Wanda Metropolitano.