Tottenham hold Juventus 2-2 in CL R16 first leg

Turin, Feb 14 (IANS) Tottenham Hotspur overcame a 2-0 deficit in the first 10 minutes to draw 2-2 here with Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie.

Gonzalo Higuain scored one from a free-kick and converted a penalty to give the hosts a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes but the London football club battled back with strikes from Harry Kane (35th minute) and Christian Eriksen (71st) on Tuesday.

Both teams came to the match at the Allianz Stadium in great form, with Juventus hoping to extend their winning streak to 12 against a side that have lost only once since November, reports Efe.

Juventus, who reached the final in two of the last three years, were seen as having the edge in terms of Champions League experience, though Tottenham could boast of winning their group stage over holders Real Madrid.

Argentine striker Higuain put Juventus up 1-0 just two minutes after the start, surprising visiting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with a massive volley after a free-kick from Miralem Pjanic.

Barely seven minutes later, Tottenham left-back Ben Davies brought down Federico Bernardeschi in the box and Higuain converted the resulting penalty to make it a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 advantage.

But two-time winners and nine-time finalists Juventus eased up as the minutes passed, allowing Tottenham back into the match.

Veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was up to the task when Tottenham super-striker Harry Kane got his head to Christian Eriksen’s cross in the 26th minute.

Nine minutes later, England star Kane applied a beautiful finish to a through ball, sliding the ball in past an onrushing Buffon to cut the deficit to one goal.

Juventus got a chance to restore the two-goal margin when the referee pointed to the spot in the final minute of the first half after left-back Sergie Aurier tripped Brazilian winger Douglas Costa, but Lloris tipped Higuain’s spot-kick on to the cross-bar.

Lloris also came up with a stop against Bernardeschi, who attempted to curl in from the left just before the hour mark.

Then Eriksen got the equaliser in the 72nd minute, beating Buffon with a low free kick to the left post.

By the end of the contest, the hosts found themselves scrambling to preserve the draw.

For Tottenham, the two away goals — against a team that had only conceded once in its previous 16 matches — represent a reward for the character they displayed.

“We played some amazing football. I’m so pleased with the character and personality,” Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino was quoted as saying by his club’s website.

“The players were fantastic. We scored twice against a team that is always difficult to break down. The team deserves a lot of praise.”

Juventus chief coach Massimiliano Allegri admitted that his side made some errors in passing.

“It was an enthralling encounter overall: we started the first half excellently, but ultimately succumbed to Spurs’ steady growth of confidence during the game,” he told juventus.com.

“They put us under pressure and capitalised on some of our misplaced passes when we looked to break forwards.”

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