Ajax stories - Lucas Moura
Fri 08 May 2020, 12:30|Tottenham Hotspur
Our final Ajax story - and you could say we've left the best until last. The night belonged to Lucas Moura, whose hat-trick and dramatic late winner against Ajax took us into the Champions League Final.
One year to the day - 8 May, 2019 - that he carved his name into Spurs history forever, Lucas spoke to us, from home, about his memories of that night in the Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam.
Lucas: “Even after the first leg where we had lost 1-0 at home, and then after the first half of the second leg where we trailed 2-0 – so 3-0 down, and we had 45 minutes to score three goals - I was sure in my heart that we would play the Champions League Final. I had that trust the whole time.”
Ajax’s early goal
Matthijs de Ligt heads home after five minutes for 1-0 on the night, 2-0 on aggregate
Lucas: “The first goal was difficult to accept but it didn’t change anything because we still needed to score two goals. The fans were excited and that made it difficult. On the pitch and in our minds though, it didn’t change anything.”
Ajax score again
Hakim Ziyech’s goal on 39 minutes makes it 2-0 on the night, 3-0 on aggregate
Lucas: “In Brazil, we say it is like a ‘cold wash’. It is difficult to accept, because at 2-0 down, we need to score three goals and it became much harder, but I still believed. I had it in my mind and heart still that the game was for us.”
Lucas: “I remember it like it was yesterday. The coach said, ‘we need to score one goal, if we score one goal, we are in the game again’. That touched us because in the second half, we started strongly. We put pressure on them, and they didn’t get to play or move the ball as they usually did. Dele had a chance and it showed that we were close to scoring. I was so positive, and I said, ‘it is coming, we will score’.”
We’re back in it as Lucas makes it 2-1 on the night, 3-1 on aggregate after 55 minutes
Lucas: “First, great work from Danny Rose. The ball came to me in the middle and I was still running because I knew that Dele Alli wouldn’t take the ball because it was too far away from him and the defender was coming. So, I needed to accelerate and take the ball and of course, I kept trusting and kept trying because I knew I would be faster than the defender. When I took the ball, I saw just the goalkeeper in front of me and I needed just to choose one side to put the ball and shoot and I think it was about 54 minutes, 10 minutes inside the second half - the perfect time to score a goal. It gave us a new motivation and we kept going.”
Just four minutes later, Lucas weaves his way around a crowded box to make it 2-2 on the night, 3-2 on aggregate
Lucas: “It was unbelievable. For sure, it was the most difficult goal because there were a lot of people in front of me. I took the ball, dribbled and then it is impossible to explain to you. I needed to think very fast what to do and I think it is because I played futsal for eight years of my life, so that helped me a lot in that action because in futsal, the space is small and every action needs to be. We had 30 minutes to score one more goal and I thought, ‘this game is for us, we will score one more goal and we will qualify’. It was amazing, 10 minutes before that no-one was believing or trusting but 10 minutes later, it had changed completely.”
Jan hits the bar
You always get one chance... Jan Vertonghen hits the crossbar with three minutes remaining
Lucas: “I was just behind Jan. I said, ‘go, go, score’ and then it hit the crossbar. I couldn’t believe it. It’s hard because we need to know how to manage our emotions, our feelings, have our mind fresh to keep playing to choose the best way, the best pass, the best thing to do in the game because that game was so emotional. It’s a Champions League semi-final, it’s not easy.”
Lucas hits the winner with 95.01 on the clock to make it 3-2 on the night, 3-3 on aggregate and we’re going through on away goals
Lucas: “Sonny gave the ball to Moussa and I thought it was the last chance, the last minute, the last second and I will be here, close to the box and if I see the ball I will shoot. I cannot explain the feeling. I did not know how to celebrate or what to do. I jumped and I slid. It was crazy because even if I was sure that we would score and qualify, after I saw the ball inside the net, it was like a bomb inside of me. An explosion. Boom! Seeing everyone celebrating, jumping and all the fans and at the same time, thinking about my wife at home, my family in Brazil, thinking about my friends, thinking about everything that I had when I was young, in my childhood. There were a lot of things in my head and in that time, I could only say thanks to God, cry and celebrate. I couldn’t wait to finish the game and go to my wife and my parents, my brothers, to say that we would play a Champions League Final.”
Two minutes after going ahead in the tie, it was all over - we were heading for Madrid!
Lucas: “I saw my team-mates running and celebrating, and I just went down and started to cry. I think it is because of our work and our job. I love to play for Tottenham because everyone is very nice, and everyone accepted me in a very good way. It really is a pleasure to wake up and go to the training ground and see my team-mates and everyone that works at the Club. The season that we did and the Champions League that we did against Dortmund and City, especially and Barcelona of course - I think we deserved to play that final. We know what we did in the training ground, we know we worked a lot and very hard for that moment. And I think the Club, the chairman and the fans deserved to play a final and deserved to win. I’m sorry we didn’t win, but even if we didn’t win, it was a great moment for everyone.”