Another day, another Champions League final comeback. This time it was Spurs falling behind 3-0 on aggregate at Ajax only to finish 3-3 and advance on the away goals tiebreaker. Spurs will play Liverpool at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on June 1 in an all-Premier League final.
Leading 1-0 from the opening leg, Matthijs de Light made it 2-0 Spurs in the 5th with Hakim Ziyech scoring in the 35th. That 3-0 lead carried into halftime with Ajax seemingly in control. Spurs flipped the script through Lucas Moura who scored in the 55th and 59th. Moura finished off his hat-trick six minutes into stoppage time leaving Ajax players face down on the field in response to the unlikely comeback.
"We didn't talk too much," Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said. "It was more about changing things and to find different alternatives to play and of course, always believe," he said. "Those were the words that I used the most - never give up. I think for sure we were in the game, we believed that we could score. I think it was a little bit unfair in the first half to go to half-time 2-0 down but the second half was amazing and we fully deserve to be in the final."
Ajax exits the tournament as the semifinalist set for the most transition this summer. All signs point to Barcelona being the primary beneficiary of a squad that impressed in European competition. Playing with nowhere near the operating budget of Europe's elite clubs, Ajax attempted to show what a squad mostly developed at the club could do on the biggest stage. What coach Erik ten Hag referred to as "the Ajax game" might not be replicable at the same level without the same group of players, but it produced the type of soccer most people prefer to watch.
Moving to the midweek MLS scores, Atlanta shutout Toronto 2-0 at home. Hector Villalba scored in the 17th with Julian Gressel doubling the lead in the 67th. Josef Martinez assisted on both goals. Brad Guzan didn't need a save to keep the clean sheet.
"Five and six weeks ago,we were really needing to get together and understand each other on both sides," Atlanta coach Frank de Boer said. "From there on, we’ve made some very good progress, and it was already something we saw those two weeks on the training ground. You could see the work rate, and everything. You saw the confidence growing, maybe not directly in the result, but you already saw the beginning proof a lot during the games. This is what you want, of course."
Columbus beat the Galaxy 3-1 at home. Gyasi Zardes put the Crew up in the 27th minute and assisted on Federico Higuain's goal in the 53rd. Hector Jimenez made it 3-0 in the 66th. Daniel Steres scored for LA in the 87th minute.
The Chicago Fire shutout New England 5-0 at home. Nemanja Nikolic started the scoring with goals in the 28th and 40th minutes. Brandt Bronico made it 3-0 in the 78th with Nicolas Gaitan scoring in the 85th. Przemyslaw Frankowski finished off the Fire goals in the 89th minute. David Ousted made two saves to keep the clean sheet.
"We were capable of refocusing our guys to what is most important now, to win games and win the next game," Chicago coach Veljko Paunovic said. "And in this case, it was a great performance from everyone. I'm very happy with how we played and obviously the result is important, but we also know who we are and where we are and this is just the beginning of what this team is capable of."
Montreal came back to beat the Red Bulls 2-1 on the road. Aaron Long put New York up in the 36th with Zakaria Diallo equalizing in the 64th. Maxi Urruti converted a 79th minute penalty for the Impact win.
Did Not Play: William Yarbrough (Leon 3 - Tijuana 1, Liga MX playoffs)
The Guardian's Barney Ronay with Spurs advancing to the final in the unlikeliest of circumstances. SI.com's Jonathan Wilson looks at the Champions League comebacks. Goal's Daniel Edwards on the outgoing transfers Ajax will see this offseason. ESPN's Simon Kuper looks at the big picture issues for Barcelona and Real Madrid trying to find replacement level players for global superstars.
Soccer America's Brian Sciaretta's interview with USMNT and Sandhausen player Andrew Wooten. The Chicago Tribune's Jeremy Mikula on the report that the Chicago Fire will be leaving Bridgeview and returning to Soldier Field. The Athletic's Felipe Cardenas talks to members of Atlanta United about the media requirements in MLS like locker room access. The Miami Herald's Michelle Kaufman reports on Inter Miami selling season tickets for 2020.
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