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#FirstTeam #ChampionsLeague #TOTJUV #MatchReaction #ErikLamela

Erik Lamela: "We looked at each other and said 'the game cannot finish like this'"

14 February 2018|Tottenham Hotspur

It was almost 16 months since Erik Lamela started a Champions League match - and he didn’t intend for it to fall apart inside 10 minutes in Turin.

The all-action attacking midfielder got the nod from Mauricio Pochettino to line-up against Juventus in the Round of 16, first leg - his first start in the competition since the trip to Bayer Leverkusen on 18 October, 2016.

However, it looked like it was all crashing down around us as Juve forged a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes with Erik’s fellow Argentine Gonzalo Higuain on target twice. Remember, the Bianconeri went into the game having conceded just one goal in 16 matches.

Undeterred, we fought back and dominated possession. Harry Kane reduced arrears on 35 minutes, Higuain crucially missed a penalty in added time and we were on top again in the second half when Christian Eriksen fired home a free-kick for 2-2. That’s how it stayed and we’ll meet again at Wembley for the second leg on Wednesday 7 March.

Below: Joy for Erik after Christian Eriksen's equaliser

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Formerly with AS Roma in Serie A, it cannot be underestimated how much it meant for Erik - now back to his best after returning from 13 months on the sidelines in November - to step out at the Allianz Stadium.

“It’s true, it’s a long time since I started in the Champions League, it was a chance for me and I gave 100 per cent for the team,” said Erik.

“It was a big game and we played well - after the first 10 minutes, of course.

“It was so difficult to come back after conceding two goals so quickly.

“We looked at each other and said ‘the game cannot finish like this’ and we changed things, started to go forward and after Harry’s goal, we believed more and more.

"We looked to go forward all the time, created chances and showed character and this was the key to getting a draw. It was an unbelievable performance. We showed real personality."