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Sports

AFP
February 15, 2018

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Eriksen spoils Higuain show, City run riot at Basel

TURIN, Italy: Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen pulled Tottenham back from the brink to hold Juventus 2-2 in Turin, while Ilkay Gundogan dazzled with two goals in Manchester City’s 4-0 romp at FC Basel in their UEFA Champions League last 16 matches 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 had pulled Tottenham back into the tie, beating veteran keeper Gianluigi Buffon on 35 minutes with Eriksen whipping in the second with a 70th-minute 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,” said Pochettino who blamed the inexperience of his side for their sluggish start.

“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 quarter-finals after extending their unbeaten run at home in Champions League fixtures to 23 games.

Pochettino’s side looked down and out after the first ten 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 outscore Spurs to win.Meanwhile, 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 quarter-finals, but I am not saying we are already there, out of respect for Basel,” said Guardiola.“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 percent possession and completed 754 of their 882 passes.

Germany midfielder Gundogan gave Basel a masterclass 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.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.

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