Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane rescue Tottenham from brink of Champions League exit after early Gonzalo Higuain brace

Christian Eriksen celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal during the Champions League
Christian Eriksen celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal during the Champions League

Christian Eriksen capped a remarkable Tottenham comeback after an early Gonzalo Higuain double seemed certain to sink Spurs’ Champions League hopes in Turin.

Higuain, who set numerous records during his time in Serie A, volleyed Massimiliano Allegri’s men ahead before converting a penalty inside 10 minutes as an entranced Spurs side were left chasing shadows.

Harry Kane pulled one back for the visitors before the interval to give the Lilywhites hope at the Allianz Stadium, before Eriksen struck in the second half to level the tie.

It means Mauricio Pochettino’s men hold the advantage ahead of the return leg at Wembley in three weeks, where a draw could see them through to the quarter-finals.

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Spurs had barely seen the ball when they found themselves trailing, the hosts bagging inside 90 seconds and registering their fastest Champions League goal since 1997.

Argentina international Higuain received an inch-perfect delivery from Miralem Pjanic on the edge of the box, and in one intricate, swivelling volley, redirected the ball inside the far post.

Pochettino’s side looked in disarray, with Juventus twice opening up an ordinarily sturdy Spurs defence only to be denied by the offside flag.

Those warnings were not heeded though, and when Wales international Ben Davies clumsily brought down Federico Bernadeschi in the box there was a strong sense of inevitability about the result.

Higuain clinically doubled the lead, picking up his second from 12 yards, despite Hugo Lloris getting a strong hand on the spot-kick.

But Tottenham’s horizontal pulse tremored slightly on 18 minutes when Kane appeared to be shoved to the floor by Mehdi Benatia – only for referee Felix Brych to wave away the calls.

Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon, with plans to retire at the season’s end, showed no signs of decline when he pulled off an instinctive save to keep Kane out from point blanc range.

Spurs’ faint signs of life threatened to become a full revival as Eriksen drove an effort wide before Dele Alli was denied a clear opportunity by a poor first touch.

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Higuain had his first chance to complete the hat-trick inside 30 minutes when the former Real Madrid striker was played through on goal but, having sent two Spurs defenders to ground, contrived to miss the target.

Buffon once more came to the Old Lady’s rescue with a fingertip save to keep Kane out, but hope was rekindled for Spurs when Alli played Kane through, and the 24-year-old coolly rounded the World Cup winner to register an away goal for Pochettino’s men.

Eriksen tested Buffon with a ferocious effort when he was afforded too much room from outside the box shortly before the interval.

Tottenham’s resurgence, though, seemed destined for a premature end when Serge Aurier cynically hacked down Douglas Costa in the box – only for Higuain, with the final play of the half, to smash his spot-kick against the crossbar.


Spurs were almost caught out just shy of the hour when Bernadeschi cut inside onto his left foot and forced a wonderful save from Lloris, before the resulting corner was headed straight at the France international by Mario Mandzukic.

It was talisman Kane who was next to test Buffon with a scorching effort from 20 yards, before Eriksen completed the revival.

With 20 minutes remaining, the Denmark international slammed a low free-kick under the wall – not unlike Kevin de Bruyne – and beyond the grasp of Buffon to send the visiting fans into elation.

Bernadeschi, perennially linked with a move to England, tested Lloris after his effort deflected off Eric Dier, before Jan Vertonghen had to be at his best to prevent Higuain from connecting with a lethal Costa cross with less than three minutes remaining.

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