AMSTERDAM: Danny Rose said Tottenham’s astonishing Champions League semi-final fightback against Ajax was inspired by Liverpool’s own incredible victory over Barcelona 24 hours earlier.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side recovered from two goals down at half-time, putting them three behind on aggregate, to win 3-2 thanks to Lucas Moura’s hat-trick at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Wednesday.
Tottenham’s jaw-dropping revival sent them through on away goals and they will face Premier League rivals Liverpool in their first European Cup final appearance in Madrid on June 1.
It was a repeat of Liverpool’s epic comeback against Barca when the Reds overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit with a 4-0 triumph at Anfield.
Tottenham defender Rose admitted Pochettino had drawn on Liverpool’s spirited success to inspire his players when he spoke to them before the match.
“We saw Liverpool last night. It just goes to show it’s not over until it’s over,” Rose told BT Sport.
“The gaffer mentioned it at the hotel before the match. He said that was the right way to play. He doesn’t mind if we lose if we play like that.
“We were disappointed with the way we played in the first leg and it was the same in the first half here. There were a few words said at half-time.
“It just goes we can beat anyone when we play like that.”
– ‘Give him a statue’ –
Tottenham’s first European final appearance since they won the 1984 UEFA Cup seemed unthinkable at half-time after goals from Matthijs De Ligt and Hakim Ziyech put Ajax in control.
But Tottenham were transformed by Pochettino’s decision to send on Spanish forward Fernando Llorente as a half-time substitute.
Lucas scored twice in quick succession to put the tie on a knife-edge before he steered in a superb winner in the fifth minute of stoppage-time to spark wild celebrations from Pochettino and his players.
Pochettino was in tears at the final whistle and Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen conceded his team rode their luck in a truly miraculous performance.
“It was a ridiculous game. We were really far down and we tried to fight back. We were just lucky. Over the two legs they played better football than us,” Eriksen said.
“It’s a relief because we’ve been fighting for us. It’s a dream to be in the Champions League final.
“We wouldn’t be able to look ourselves in the mirror if we went down three or four nil. We had to fight back.
“I feel sorry for Ajax, they played a very good game against us, football they played better than us.
“We scored early to get some momentum, put them under pressure. We are lucky the ball falls in the right direction.”
Saluting his team-mates’ refusal to surrender when the odds were against them, Denmark star Eriksen called for Lucas to be given a hero’s reception on his return to north London.
“Today wasn’t nothing tactical. It was more heart, fight… And Lucas Moura. That’s how we won the game,” he added.
“He will be a hero. I hope he gets a statue in England after this! I’m blown away.”