What do you do when you are 2-0 down inside 10 minutes against Juventus in Turin? 2-0 down against team that has conceded one goal in 16 games? Mauricio Pochettino explained it in two words after Spurs turned around their Champions League Round of 16 first leg to take a 2-2 draw back to Wembley. “Keep calm.”
Juve striker Gonzalo Higuain led the Serie A side’s early charge. The opener arrived on two minutes, a smart finish from Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick. It was a quick one-two as the Argentine slotted home from the penalty spot on nine minutes.
What next from there? “To keep calm, to think and (show) character, that’s most important,” said Mauricio. “The team started to play, started to enjoy playing their football and that was the key.”
We started to dominate possession and open the home side up. Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier controlled the central areas, Harry Kane was denied twice by Gianluigi Buffon but made no mistake when he was sent clear by Dele Alli, a clinical finish for 2-1 on 35 minutes.
Then a key moment in added time as Higuain smacked a second penalty against the crossbar.
Christian Eriksen completed the comeback with another masterful free-kick, getting the better of Buffon from 22 yards for 2-2 on 72 minutes. At the other end, Hugo Lloris made a smart save from Federico Bernardeschi to leave the tie set-up perfectly for the second leg at Wembley on Wednesday 7 March.
What were Mauricio’s feelings on the touchline? “From the beginning, difficult, emotional, a little upset, angry but at the end, I enjoyed it a lot,” he said.
“In the second half we dominated, played football and we were capable of winning the game. The team deserves full credit, I congratulate the players.
“We played some amazing football. I’m so pleased with the character and personality.
“The players were fantastic. We scored twice against a team that is always difficult to break down. The team deserves a lot of praise.”