Spurs fight back with Juve

Man City thrashes Basel

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TURIN — On the ropes after Gonzalo Higuain struck twice for Juventus in the opening nine minutes, Tottenham Hotspur launched a Harry Kane-led fightback to draw 2-2 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie Tuesday.

In Basel, Manchester City effectively killed off its Champions League tie against FC Basel after 23 minutes, flattening the Swiss champion with three quickfire goals on its way to a 4-0 away win.

When Argentina striker Higuain volleyed Juve in front after two minutes and fired home a penalty seven minutes later the host, runner-up in two of the last three season, appeared to have one foot already in the quarterfinals.

Tottenham was wobbling but responded to dominate for long periods and Kane halved the deficit in the 35th minute with his ninth goal in nine appearances in the competition.

The outstanding Christian Eriksen beat veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon with a free kick 20 minutes from fulltime to give Tottenham the advantage going into next month’s second leg at Wembley Stadium where it has already beaten champion Real Madrid in the group phase.

Juve, which had conceded only once in its previous 16 games in all competitions, will rue Higuain’s missed penalty on the stroke of halftime but could have few complaints after being shaken to the core by a vibrant Spurs side.

Tottenham arrived full of confidence after winning a group containing Real and Borussia Dortmund.

But it was caught cold as Juventus was awarded a free kick and Miralem Pjanic cleverly picked out Higuain who swiveled to volley right-footed past Hugo Lloris.

Tottenham had barely put two passes together when they fell further behind. Ben Davies was caught napping and his rash tackle sent Federico Bernardeschi flying to give the referee an easy decision to point to the spot.

Higuain duly converted despite Lloris guessing the right way and getting a touch on the ball.

From a position of control, however, Juve began to retreat and allow Tottenham’s creative department of Eriksen, Mousa Dembele, Erik Lamela and Dele Alli to pull the strings.

Eriksen’s sublime pass should have resulted in a goal for Kane but his header was superbly saved by Buffon, who also got down well to deflect another Kane shot wide.

Juve was dangerous on the counter-attack with Higuain almost scoring a third but Tottenham was back in the tie when Alli picked out Kane after 35 minutes and the England striker rounded Buffon before sliding home.

Tottenham had a huge let-off on the stroke of halftime when it was caught on the counter-attack and Douglas Costa enticed Serge Aurier into a desperate lunge to concede another penalty.

Higuain took the ball but rather than celebrate a first-half hat trick his penalty rattled the crossbar.

Juventus played more like the away side in the second half with Tottenham again pressing.

There was barely a dull moment and when Tottenham was awarded a foul 25 meters from goal Eriksen drilled a low shot that deceived Buffon and nestled into the corner.

In Basel, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero scored within nine minutes of each other.

Gundogan curled in the fourth from the edge of the area in the 53rd minute as the runaway English Premier League leader clocked up another emphatic win in their remarkable season.

Basel did their best to make a game of it and created several openings but looked vulnerable every time City attacked.

“It’s an amazing result,” said City coach Pep Guardiola. “The tie is 180 minutes but we are almost there. We defended quite well, we were clinical. It’s not easy to keep the level but we did it.” — Reuters


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