Tottenham fight back to draw 2-2 with Juventus

Written By: BBC/Hunja Macharia
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Tottenham produced a brilliant comeback from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Juventus after a disastrous start to their Champions League last-16 first leg in Turin.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side was 2-0 down inside 10 minutes after Gonzalo Higuain followed up a sumptuous volley with a penalty, awarded for Ben Davies’ foul on Federico Bernardeschi.

Harry Kane started the fightback after rounding Gianluigi Buffon following Deli Alli’s threaded pass and Higuain then missed a penalty for the hosts with the last kick of the first half, following Serge Aurier’s poor challenge on Douglas Costa.

Spurs dominated possession against the Italian champions and got their reward when Christian Eriksen’s low free-kick evaded Buffon to give Spurs the edge going into the second leg at Wembley on 7 March.

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Spurs remain unbeaten since 16 December, and Pochettino said: “We are more mature. The team is growing and has stepped up in this aspect. I think the team was amazing in the way they reacted.”

Pochettino’s side still has work to do to overcome Juve in three weeks’ time.

Yet this performance, on top of wins over Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the group stage, provided further evidence that Spurs are continuing to grow in this competition with each game.

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Juve had not conceded a goal in 2018 before this match yet Pochettino will be wary his players cannot afford to start the second leg like they did in Italy.

In a pulsating game, Tottenham were a goal behind inside two minutes after Miralem Pjanic’s chipped free-kick caught out the visitors’ defence and Higuain beat Hugo Lloris with a quality finish.

Spurs looked anxious and their evening went from bad to worse when Higuain doubled the lead from the spot after Davies brought down Bernardeschi.

First Kane had a header saved from inside the six-yard box by Buffon, but the England striker was not to be denied for long, beating the veteran with a composed finish after Alli’s pass.

Alli headed over when he should have scored before Eriksen was denied by Buffon as Spurs peppered the Juve goal.

The turning point arrived on the stroke of half-time when Higuain hit the bar from the penalty spot.

In the end, Spurs had 12 shots – half of them on target – and 67% of possession, while half of Juve’s four shots in the opening 45 minutes were from the penalty spot.

Tottenham are now unbeaten in 13 league and cup games, as the business end of the season looms. As well as the Champions League, they are still in the FA Cup and are chasing a top-four finish in the Premier League.

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Elsewhere Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola praised “extraordinary” Ilkay Gundogan as his side took a giant step towards the Champions League quarter-finals with a comfortable win at Basel.

City took command of the last-16 first-leg tie within half an hour in Switzerland as Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero all scored within a nine-minute period.

German Gundogan, who returned from a nine-month injury lay-off in September, added his side’s fourth – and his second – 10 minutes after the break.

“Ilkay Gundogan is an extraordinary player. Last season we missed him a lot with injury for six months and that’s why we are so satisfied, not just the quality but personality to play,” Guardiola told BT Sport.

Gundogan put City in front on 14 minutes, heading in Kevin de Bruyne’s corner at the near post.

Four minutes later Silva doubled the lead, cushioning Raheem Sterling’s cross on his chest before firing a volley at Basel keeper Tomas Vaclik, who could only tip the ball into his own net.

Aguero then scored his 29th of the season and his 198th for City in the 23rd minute, whipping a right-footed shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards with Vaclik rooted to the spot.

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Gundogan curled City’s fourth into the top corner 10 minutes after the break and was denied a hat-trick by Vaclik, who saved the German’s shot from close range.

The return leg at the Etihad on 7 March should be routine for City, who lead the Premier League by 16 points and face Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final.

City enjoyed 74% possession against the reigning Swiss Super League champions and they made a mammoth 868 passes in the game, compared to Basel’s 294.

The visitors were relentless in attack and the scoreline reflected an imperious performance by Guardiola’s side.

But Basel were able to get at the heart of the City defence on a number of occasions.

It was the home side who threatened first with striker Dimitri Oberlin squandering an excellent chance on a counter-attack with only the onrushing keeper Ederson to beat.

Valentin Stocker saw his shot blocked when also through against Ederson, while the Brazilian keeper had to make a finger-tip stop to deny Mohamed Elyounoussi from long range.

The chances kept coming for Oberlin in the second half as he missed a close-range header and saw a free-kick saved by Ederson.

 

 

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