Mauricio Pochettino admitted Tottenham paid the price for “two big mistakes” as Juventus staged a stunning fightback to reach the Champions League quarter-finals 4-3 on aggregate on Wednesday. Juventus were on the brink of elimination after Son Heung-Min’s first-half strike put Tottenham ahead in the last 16, the second leg at Wembley. But, despite being completely outplayed in the opening period, Juventus buckled down after the break and equalized through Gonzalo Higuain.
That was the decisive moment as Tottenham suddenly went to pieces, allowing the Italian champions to score again two minutes and 49 seconds later as Dybala punished poor defending with a cool finish.
It was an epic escape act from Juventus, who remain on course to reach a third Champions League final in four seasons after twice finishing as runners-up.
The two-time European champions have enjoyed some memorable moments in the competition, but coming back from the brink against such in-form opposition will rank as one of their finest hours.
Crashing out after having the tie in their hands was a bitter pill for Tottenham to swallow and once again raised questions about their ability to win major trophies.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men had put Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal to the sword at Wembley this season, producing eye-catching displays that their manager claimed had earned them the respect of Europe’s superpowers.
But Tottenham’s frustrating tradition of hitting a high note before receiving a painful reality check returned to haunt them in the most painful fashion.
Pochettino had spoken this week about how he dreamed of leading the team to silverware.
Instead, Juventus turned Pochettino’s evening into a nightmare.
Tottenham were in control early on and Harry Kane tricked two Juventus defenders with a muscular turn before feeding Son, whose low strike was repelled by Gianluigi Buffon.
Despite a torrid opening, Juventus felt they should have had a penalty when Douglas Costa surged away from Jan Vertonghen.
But when Vertonghen’s challenge sent the Juventus winger crashing to the turf, referee Szymon Marciniak controversially waved play on.
Still seething over that decision, Juventus were ragged at the back when Son forced Buffon to palm out his header from Kieran Trippier’s cross.