Spurs pull back after Higuain’s dou­ble blow

Two goals put Man City close to Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter­fi­nals

The New Age (Free State) - - SPORT - BASEL TURIN

ILKAY Gun­do­gan daz­zled with two goals in Manch­ester City’s 4-0 romp at FC Basel on Tues­day to leave the Premier League lead­ers on the verge of the Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter­fi­nals.

Pep Guardi­ola’s side ef­fec­tively set­tled the last 16 tie after just 23 min­utes by rac­ing into a 3-0 lead at Basel’s Sankt Jakob Park.

Their first three goals came in a dev­as­tat­ing nine-minute spell thanks to a Gun­do­gan header, a Bernardo Silva vol­ley and a long-range Ser­gio Aguero strike.

Basel’s mis­ery con­tin­ued just after the break when Gun­do­gan deftly added a fourth from out­side the area and he could eas­ily have fin­ished with a hat trick.

“To win 4-0 away in the last 16 is an amaz­ing re­sult, we are al­most in the quar­ter­fi­nals, but I am not say­ing we are al­ready there, out of re­spect for Basel,” Guardi­ola said.

“We de­fended well and we were clin­i­cal – we had four chances and took them all.”

The score­line gives the Swiss side lit­tle hope for the re­turn leg at the Eti­had on March 7. As ex­pected, Basel were starved of the ball as City en­joyed 69% pos­ses­sion and com­pleted 754 of their 882 passes.

“For a Cham­pi­ons League game, we did ever so well,” City cap­tain Vin­cent Kom­pany said after his first Cham­pi­ons League ap­pear­ance this sea­son.

“In these kinds of sit­u­a­tions, it is about more than go­ing through – if we have a draw at home that won’t give us a good feel­ing.”

Ger­many mid­fielder Gun­do­gan gave Basel a master class in de­fen­sive mid­field play, com­ple­ment­ing his two-goal dis­play by re­peat­edly snuff­ing out fledg­ling Swiss at­tacks.

The only black mark against him was a late yel­low card after a clash with Basel’s Ivory Coast vet­eran mid­fielder Serey Die.

Basel head coach Raphael Wicky opted to play a back five when the hosts were de­fend­ing, but the ploy only failed to keep City out for the first 14 min­utes.

Hav­ing had an ear­lier effort tipped over the bar, Gun­do­gan got in front of Fabian Frei to power home his header when Kevin De Bruyne whipped in City’s fourth cor­ner of the game.

The vis­i­tors’ sec­ond goal fol­lowed just four min­utes later. Bernardo Silva chested down Ra­heem Ster­ling’s de­flected cross and fired past Basel goal­keeper To­mas Va­clik.

With Basel’s de­fence buck­ling, Aguero, who ter­rorised Le­ices­ter City in the Premier League last Satur­day with four goals in a 5-1 rout, hit his 29th goal of the sea­son.

Basel de­fender Leo Lacroix stopped Fer­nand­inho, but the ball fell into Aguero’s path who hit the bot­tom cor­ner from out­side the area on 23 min­utes.

It was the Ar­gen­tinian’s 14th goal in 11 games in 2018.

Basel made a bright start to the sec­ond half, but Gun­do­gan left the Swiss with a moun­tain to climb when he hit the top right-hand cor­ner on 53rd minute.

Ster­ling made way for Leroy Sane on the left side of City’s at­tack. The Ger­man winger is sur­pris­ingly back two weeks after an an­kle in­jury. With half an hour to go and the tie ef­fec­tively won, Guardi­ola took off De Bruyne, sav­ing the Bel­gian for Satur­day’s league game at Wi­gan Ath­letic and the League Cup fi­nal against Arse­nal on Fe­bru­ary 25.

With 15 min­utes left, Gun­do­gan was only de­nied the first hat trick of his ca­reer by Va­clik’s de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Sane sprinted down the left wing and although he was tack­led, Aguero scooped up the loose ball and set up the Ger­man, but Gun­do­gan’s low shot was gath­ered at the sec­ond at­tempt.

At 4-0 down and the clock tick­ing, Basel fi­nally started to test City. – AFP HARRY Kane and Chris­tian Eriksen pulled Tot­ten­ham back from the brink to hold Ju­ven­tus 2-2 in Turin, spoil­ing what had looked set to be a Gon­zalo Higuain one-man show in the Cham­pi­ons League last 16 first leg in Turin on Tues­day.

Higuain had put Ju­ven­tus, los­ing fi­nal­ists twice in the past three sea­sons, two goals up within the first nine min­utes at the Al­lianz Sta­dium.

The Ar­gen­tine’s light­ning strike after just 73 se­conds was fol­lowed by a sec­ond from the spot to leave Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s English side reel­ing.

But the 30 year old missed two fur­ther chances to ham­mer home Ju­ven­tus’s ad­van­tage in the first half, with strik­ing the cross­bar with a sec­ond penalty on the stroke of half time.

Kane pulled Tot­ten­ham back into the tie, beat­ing vet­eran keeper Gian­luigi Buf­fon on 35 min­utes – with Eriksen whip­ping in the sec­ond with a 70thminute free kick to leave it all to play for in Lon­don next month.

“The team showed real char­ac­ter to come here and chal­lenge a team like Ju­ven­tus,” Po­chet­tino, who blamed the in­ex­pe­ri­ence of his side for their slug­gish start, said.

“I think we weren’t fo­cused and it was dif­fi­cult to man­age the first seven min­utes. I’m very happy that it’s still open and we’re go­ing to play the sec­ond leg in Lon­don.”

Ju­ven­tus coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri warned they would be ready to chal­lenge again for a place in the quar­ter­fi­nals after ex­tend­ing their un­beaten run at home in Cham­pi­ons League fix­tures to 23 games.

“I don’t think there is any need to be de­pressed. If some­one thought that Ju­ven­tus could win 4-0, they were way off. Tot­ten­ham had a great game and turned things around.

“After go­ing 2-0 up we stopped play­ing, but part of that was also down to Tot­ten­ham’s per­for­mance. They are a very phys­i­cal and tech­ni­cal team.”

Po­chet­tino’s side looked down and out after the first 10 min­utes with Mi­ralem Pjanic lift­ing a free kick into the penalty area and an un­marked Higuain vol­ley­ing past Hugo Lloris, de­spite be­ing in an off­side po­si­tion.

Higuain’s sec­ond came from a penalty after Ben Davies fouled Fed­erico Bernarde­schi, with Lloris div­ing the right way but un­able to stop the pow­er­ful drive.

Higuain al­most had a hat-trick, pick­ing up a Pjanic pass to out­fox two Spurs de­fend­ers only to shoot just wide.

Buf­fon twice saved from Kane, in­clud­ing a header from point-blank range, be­fore the striker fi­nally broke through.

Spurs be­gan to take con­trol, only for Serge Aurier to con­cede an­other spot kick by hack­ing down Dou­glas Costa, but Higuain was de­nied a tre­ble by the cross­bar.

Kane pulled Spurs back from the brink, latch­ing onto a Dele Alli pass to round a help­less Buf­fon who had ad­vanced off his line, mak­ing no mis­take in front of goal.

It was 24-year-old Kane’s sev­enth goal in Europe’s top club com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son and puts him level with Steven Ger­rard for the most scored by an English player in a sin­gle Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign.

Kane was de­lighted to take two valu­able away goals into the sec­ond leg at Wem­b­ley, mean­ing Ju­ven­tus have to out-score Spurs to win.

Asked if he feared his side were about to sink with­out trace after Higuain’s dou­ble strike, Kane said: “We showed char­ac­ter.

“It was an excellent per­for­mance and we take two away goals to Wem­b­ley. Great re­sult.”

Eriksen got the sec­ond from a free kick after cen­tre-back Gior­gio Chiellini fouled Alli, send­ing it low past a wrong­footed Buf­fon.

“We are sure we will have chances at Wem­b­ley,” Eriksen said.

“We go into that game full of con­fi­dence and we’re look­ing for­ward to it.”

Jan Ver­tonghen did well to pre­vent a late Higuain win­ner when he slid to in­ter­cept a Costa cross to pre­vent the Ar­gen­tine tap­ping in. – AFP


ON THE BALL: Ilkay Gun­do­gan of Manch­ester City.


JUST IN TIME: Chris­tian Eriksen’s goal se­cured Spurs a draw.

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