On the ropes after Gonzalo Higuain struck twice for Juventus in the opening nine minutes, Tottenham Hotspur launched a Harry Kane-led fightback to draw 2-2 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday (Feb 13).
Tottenham staged an unthinkable comeback against Europe’s most formidable defence as they fought back for a 2-2 Champions League draw against Juventus in Turin. Goals from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen rescued the north Londoners following the worst start imaginable when two early goals from Gonzalo Higuain had Massimiliano Allegri’s side sitting comfortably early on.
The pre-match focus centred on the battle between Kane and Giorgio Chiellini, but that had all but gone out of the window after a nightmare opening 10 minutes in Turin for Mauricio Pochettino and his staff. With just over a minute on the clock, Mousa Dembele -- fresh from his best performance of the season against Arsenal -- gave away a cheap foul by bringing Miralem Pjanic down.
The Bosnian clipped a clever free-kick through to Higuain; the Italian spun, magnificently, hitting a first-time volley past Hugo Lloris.
A stunned Spurs were left further rocked just shy of the 10-minute mark when Ben Davies was caught unawares by Federico Bernadeschi, tripping him and leaving referee Felix Brych no choice but to point to the spot and brandish a yellow card in the Welshman’s direction.
Higuain stepped up and, though Lloris got a hand to it, the Argentine doubled the lead, finding the same corner and seemingly hammered another nail into Tottenham’s hopes of progressing in Europe.
However, if anything, going two down merely unshackled Tottenham. The visitors pressed forward and, with everything flowing through the feet of Dembele, looked for a way back into the tie.
With Spurs turning up the pressure, Eriksen looped a trademark ball into the path of Kane who, from yards out, sent the ball into the palms of Gianluigi Buffon. As the England striker warned at Anfield, though, you can’t give him two golden chances and expect to get away with it.
Under 10 minutes later a ball from Dele Alli saw Kane through one-on-one with the onrushing Juventus captain, a deft flick made a mockery of the world’s most revered goalkeeper before a wonderful finish found the back of the net, sending nerves rippling around Juventus Stadium.
Those nerves could, and should, have been dispatched on the stroke of half time, however. Douglas Costa caught Serge Aurier napping, before the erratic full-back brought him down and once more Higuain was standing over a penalty attempt.
This time, however, the Italian could not deliver, hammering his hat-trick chance against Lloris’ bar and handing Spurs a lifeline.
At times after the restart it looked as if Tottenham were going to surrender that lifeline, with Aurier shown a yellow inside two minutes of the second half, ruling himself out of the second leg, and continually going close to earning himself a second caution as well.
With Juventus pressing, it was a much more end-to-end affair than the first 45 minutes, with Lloris called into action on more than one occasion.
Having held firm through some nervy spells, it was another pair of rare mistakes from two Juventus greats that saw the Old Lady surrender a home two-goal lead for the first time since leaving Stadio Olimpico.
It was a crafty Pjanic free-kick which opened the scoring and, when Chiellini brought Alli down on the edge of the box, Eriksen was handed a chance to bookend the game with his own.
The Dane fired low and to Buffon’s near side, after the Italian icon had shifted the other way ever so slightly. His movement allowed the fizzed free-kick to nestle in the bottom corner, and give Tottenham more than a fighting chance in the second leg.