I left Anfield around midnight, at which point it had been clear football was getting to fill subsequent 24 hours. within the lobby of my Manchester airport hotel everyone was still talking about football. a couple of short, adrenaline-churned hours later everyone at breakfast was talking about football. In departures and security everyone was talking about football. In Amsterdam the passport queue was filled with Tottenham fans and various red-eyed media types, all on an equivalent midweek weekender, all talking about football.
It was a special feeling round the Johan Cruyff Arena. this is often an enormous concrete shell of a ground. If Anfield was warm and persuasive the Cruyff felt overwhelming. Ajax supporters had found out a loud, slightly hostile fan park outside. There was a fug of sweet smoke and a drunken crush round the stairwells and stadium bars. agen sbobet 888 online
Getting in was terrible. The admin system had crashed. No lunch, no water, four hours’ sleep: this felt sort of a day taking a wrong turn. Upstairs there was an extra shemozzle over access. because the game began, charged with filing 900 words on the ultimate kick, I crammed myself into a concrete ledge without power or wifi right up within the gods, the players a group of moving shapes miles below.
Spurs were already without Harry Kane. After four minutes they were 2-0 down on aggregate, Matthijs de Ligt heading during a corner. With 36 minutes gone it had been 3-0, Hakim Ziyech smashing an attempt into the corner. And at that moment this was just about over, a re-entry into the everyday after the wildness of Anfield. Ajax celebrated the instant, a team savouring the high. Spurs looked spent, cooked, done.
Somehow they only kept coming. the primary goal of the second-half comeback was a thing of beauty, a blitzkrieg down the centre launched by Danny Rose’s nutmeg and speared long pass. Dele Alli played a stunning touch to Lucas Moura, who scored. Four minutes later Moura did something brilliant together with his feet during a tiny space during a crowded area. it had been 3-2 and Spurs were playing through a sort of rage.
Jan Vertonghen hit the bar with four minutes left and you’ll see the waves of fear rolling round the ground. Everyone knew what was coming. Into the 96th minute, Moura took a stunning, easy little flick from Alli and just tucked the ball into the corner with thrilling ease.
At the ultimate whistle the Spurs players didn’t really know what to try to to. They leapt and clutched one another. Mauricio Pochettino was suddenly there, punching the air with both fists. Anfield had felt sort of a universal effort, something the whole stadium dredged out of itself. This was more distinct, a display of will from the players that was easier to face and admire, but no less moving for that.
Barcelona had simply collapsed the night before. Ajax played their part in Amsterdam, a brilliantly constructed team reaching their own two-season high therein half.
The night led to more confusion, with a struggle to flee the out-of-town megadrome. a multitude of absent taxis was followed by an extended walk into town and a rather messy stroll through the canal bars of a city that wasn’t getting to sleep.
It is easy to become a touch jaded by European club football, this Gazprom-fest, this endlessly excitable arm of massive Entertainment. But this was something else, a bit of extended sporting theatre that also feels a touch raw and undigested, as if some small a part of it’ll just keep it up flickering away on an endless replay at the rear of your head. Nothing quite this much fun has ever happened before during this competition. it’s going to never happen again. Which is, all things considered, probably for the simplest.