When you’re 2-0 down away at the best defensive side in Europe after nine minutes, you’re surely out of the tie. Not Tottenham Hotspur though.
It was a performance to be proud of from Mauricio Pochettino’s side and sets up a tantalising second leg at Wembley in a few weeks’ time.
But what did we learn from the tie? Here are five things we’ve taken away from the last-16 Champions League tie from Spurs proving themselves at the top level to the unheralded genius of Mousa Dembélé.
Tottenham can fight with Europe’s best
Juventus are among Europe’s elite, there’s no doubt about that.
Last season’s Champions League finalists went into this game on the back of ten consecutive wins. They’d conceded just one in their last 16 home games and were yet to let one in this calendar year.
Their home record inspired fear. They were unbeaten in their past 22 Champions League home games. Bayern Munich were the last team to beat them in Turin, back in April 2013.
After nine minutes, it looked like Spurs were overawed, going 2-0 down early on. But from that point, they were the better team. They attacked Juve and showed they could compete with them.
They deserved to be level when Eriksen equalised with 20 minutes on the clock.
Their fluid attacking three off Kane caused a number of problems to a backline that’s rarely troubled, managing to find the English forward free to give him goalscoring opportunities on a number of occasions.
Pochettino’s side dominated the game, with 62 per cent possession and 544 passes to 222. They went head to head with one of the best sides around and could have won. Spurs will fancy their chances at Wembley.
Harry Kane: On course for a Ballon d’Or?
The talk before the game was who was the better striker, Kane or Higuaín. You can read Adam Digby’s article for Football Whispers on that here.
“Kane is maybe the most complete striker. He’s an amazing player and still young. Tottenham are lucky to have him,” was what Sami Khedira had to say on him this week.
But despite the hailing of the Spurs striker, it was the Argentine who stole the show early on with a lovely volley. He then doubled his tally from the penalty spot, to get his 20th of the season and his eighth in his last five.
As Spurs came back into the game, so did Kane. He tested Gianluigi Buffon from close range with a header before he rounded the Italian legend to make it 2-1 and put Pochettino’s side back in it. He now has 33 this season.
For it to be Kane to score the first goal Juventus have conceded this year, just underlines how he has taken his place among the game’s elite.
While Higuaín may have scored two, he wasted two big chances to get a hat-trick, first after neat work with Mario Mandžukić, and then from the penalty spot. You’d have fancied Kane to score those.
They had four shots each, although two of the Argentine’s were from the penalty spot. Three of Kane’s were on target compared to two of Higuaín’s. The duo also both completed three dribbles
A performance like this from Spurs’ main man at one of the toughest grounds to go to won’t do much to stop Real Madrid transfer talk. He’s up there with the very best. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has more goals in the Champions League this season.
Miralem Pjanić shows class in brief glimpses
Speaking before the game, Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanić spoke about how he could have been a Tottenham player if things worked out differently.
“There was the opportunity but at that moment I told them I was happy where I was and that’s why we didn’t sign the deal,” Pjanic told the Telegraph.
“But I made my choice using my head and if I made that choice not to go to an English team it was for good reasons.
“We are very competitive, very hungry and we definitely want to win it [the Champions League]. But Tottenham are a great team.”
He eventually joined Juventus in 2016 and Spurs will have been wishing he was on their side.
After just a minute on the clock, he showed why he’s been called the magician, with a fantastic quick-thinking free-kick, flicking it up to Higuaín to fire home.
From set pieces, he caused so many threats with beautiful balls into the box.
But with just 26 passes, and a 62 per cent pass completion rate, he was off the boil as Juve struggled. He did however make three key passes – no-one made more on the pitch.
Dembélé will be key to any Tottenham success
While Pjanić may have been a star early on, Dembélé came into the game and took control of the midfield at 2-0 down, helping Spurs get back into it.
He’s largely unheralded by those that haven’t worked with him. But his former managers and team-mates love him.
“I always say ‘Mousa, in my book you will be one of my genius players that I have been lucky to meet’. One was Maradona, the others Ronaldinho, [Jay-Jay] Okocha and [Iván] De la Peña – he was a genius too – and Mousa Dembélé,” was how Pochettino described the 30-year-old in March, when speaking to the Evening Standard.
Here his showed why his boss loves him so much.
The Belgian was utterly dominant. No-one completed more than his four dribbles. His 99 passes was the most of anyone on the pitch, with a 95 per cent success rate.
No player had more touches in the first half than his 64. His opposing midfielder Khedira had just 11.
If Tottenham’s No.19 wasn’t 30, his performances in recent weeks would have surely seen him be the latest player linked with a move from Spurs to Real Madrid.
Tottenham’s full-backs cause questions
The left-back fouled Federico Bernadeschi in the box to concede an early penalty. That was a silly challenge, but the Italian could have fouled many defenders.
The penalty conceded by Aurier was a different matter. Douglas Costa’s speed meant he was past him and there was no way he was going to win the ball, it was a stupid challenge.
It was the second penalty the former Paris Saint-Germain right-back has conceded in the Champions League since joining Spurs and there will be some real question marks over how much they can rely on him.
His booking for another foul in a second half will mean Kieran Trippier plays in the next leg, and based on this game, that may not be a bad thing for the Londoners.