Warrior spirit made the difference: Blaise
Juventus relied on their warrior instincts, according to midfielder Blaise Matuidi, as they stunned Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 to reach the Champions League quarter finals 4-3 on aggregate at Wembley on Wednesday.
- Published 9.03.18
London: Juventus relied on their warrior instincts, according to midfielder Blaise Matuidi, as they stunned Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 to reach the Champions League quarter finals 4-3 on aggregate at Wembley on Wednesday.
Needing to score twice in the second half, the Italians appeared to be heading out until goals by Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala in the 64th and 67th minutes cancelled out Son Heung-min's opener for Tottenham, ending a poor run against English clubs in two-legged European ties.
Son Heung-min's first-half goal had Spurs in control and dreaming of a famous scalp but they paid for two defensive lapses as their 17-match unbeaten run came to an end.
Higuain, who scored twice in the first leg, levelled in the 64th minute before Dybala burst clear of a static Spurs defensive line to curl the winner past Hugo Lloris.
Tottenham will rue missed chances and Harry Kane's last-minute header against the post but Massimiliano Allegri's streetwise Juve side proved they are still one of the toughest of European nuts to crack.
Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea had all beaten Juventus in the knockout phase of the Champions League and they lost to Fulham in the Europa League.
But Massimiliano Allegri's side are made of sterner stuff, as they have proved by reaching two of the last three Champions League finals and now going on a 21-match unbeaten run in all competitions this season.
"We weren't in a great position after the 2-2 at home. We knew we could score here, we did that," 30-year-old Frenchman Matuidi, who missed the first leg, told reporters.
"We were up against a very, very good team that has super players and plays good football. They finished top of their group. It was a challenge, one that we faced with heart. Out warrior spirit made the difference."
No one typifies that more than 36-year-old Andrea Barzagli, a rugged no-nonsense pillar in a back four with more than 170 Champions League appearances between them.
When Tottenham threw everything at Juve in a desperate late assault to salvage their dream, he along with Giorgio Chiellini, Medhi Benatia and Alex Sandro stood firm in the storm.
Barzagli believes it is their kindred spirit that will make Juve feared quarter final opponents. "We can really achieve anything with this great character, we played badly for over one hour and than turned everything around with two great goals," he said.
"We were also lucky, but I think you deserve luck when you are ready to fight and sacrifice as we did tonight."
Chiellini said a calmness under pressure had allowed Juve to reach the quarter-final for the third time in their last five appearances in the competition.
"At half-time we told ourselves that we had to remain calm despite suffering so much because our chances would come," he said.