Tottenham produced a brilliant comeback to draw at Juventus after a disastrous start to their Champions League last-16 first leg in Turin.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side were 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.
Spurs remain unbeaten since 16 December, and Pochettino said: “We are more mature. The team is growing and have stepped up in this aspect. I think the team was amazing in the way they reacted.”
Pochettino’s side still have 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.
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. But the Premier League side then produced a comeback that will live long in the memory of their travelling supporters.
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.
Lloris produced a fine save from Bernardeschi after the interval but Tottenham got the reward their hard-work deserved when Eriksen scored from a set-piece.
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.
This gritty display against the two-time champions of Europe will certainly give Spurs momentum going into a crucial spell of games.
“You need some luck always in football,” added Pochettino. “I think in the second half we played much better.
“We deserved the victory more than the draw. It’s so important to recognise and congratulate the players.
“The tie is open. Yes, we have the dream and hope that we can beat them at Wembley.”