Spurs still believe they can make final, insists Sissoko
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Tottenham Hotspur will have to overturn a 1-0 deficit in Amsterdam next week to reach their first ever European Cup final
Moussa Sissoko believes Tottenham Hotspur can qualify for the Champions League final despite Tuesday’s one-goal loss at home to Ajax in the semi-final first leg.
A crowd of 60,243 witnessed a masterclass from the young Eredivisie outfit during the opening half an hour in London.
Donny van de Beek opened the scoring with 15 on the clock and could have extended the visitors lead, but was thwarted by Hugo Lloris.
The enforced arrival of Sissoko in the 39th minute lifted the Lilywhites and despite not creating too many chances, they enjoyed the better of the second half.
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With Heung-min Son back for the return meeting in Amsterdam next Wednesday, the north Londoners know another dramatic fightback in this tournament is possible, after stunning Manchester City in the quarter-final stage.
Sissoko said: “We always believed this year we could do it. We know the game can be 95 minutes and sometimes even more, so you have to believe until the end because a lot can happen.
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“We will do it until the end. Now we have a second game coming up in one week, we will have maybe 95 minutes and in 95 minutes we can score a lot of goals.
“Against Man City in 20 minutes we had five goals so it was something unbelievable, but like I said a lot of things can happen. I am sure we can do it and I believe in all the players and believe we can do it all together.”
Although Ajax had knocked out Real Madrid in the round of 16 and Juventus in the last-eight, this was their first match in England in this year’s competition and the first time many in the country had seen Erik Ten Hag’s team live.
If they didn’t believe the hype before kick-off, they did come the 30-minute mark, but after dominating the opening exchanges, they were unable to kick on and find more goals in the second half.
Tottenham, led by Sissoko, showed their true battling face and had some moments in N17, but Andre Onana was largely untested.
“Ajax play good football, but I think I have seen them play much better than that and I wasn’t surprised because I saw them play a lot against Madrid and Juventus, so it is a good side with a lot of young players and a lot of quality,” Sissoko said.
“I am not surprised they are at this stage of the Champions League, so we know and we are prepared for that, but we will be ready for the second leg and do everything to come back with qualification.”
One major negative aside from the score was the sickening sight of Jan Vertonghen on the floor flat out after a collision between him, Onana and Toby Alderweireld.
The defender didn’t sit up for five minutes, but three minutes later tried to carry on, yet he immediately waved to the touchline and called for a substitution to be made.
He appeared to be sick and needed to be helped from the pitch by manager Mauricio Pochettino and club staff.
Yet Sissoko provided a positive update at full time and Tottenham confirmed the centre back had passed all the concussion tests.
The Frenchman added: “Jan’s feeling better. I saw him in the changing room. He was walking and I was talking with him.
“He was fine. We’ll have to see now, but I’m sure he’ll be fine for Saturday (away to AFC Bournemouth).”
Spurs’ main focus is again back to the Premier League and yet they will know they have an opportunity next Wednesday.
After winning at Borussia Dortmund in March and scoring three at the Etihad, all is not lost for Tottenham ahead of the second leg.
Sissoko insisted: “We are not scared of any team. We qualified against Man City, one of the best teams in the world and I don’t think many people believed in us to go through, but we did it.
“It will be the same again Ajax now we lost the first game. Everyone knows it will be difficult because they are a good team and they play good football, but we have a lot of quality and I am sure we can go there and beat them and go to the final.”