Divock Origi and Lucas Moura; It’s very unlikely that you would forget the names anymore. These Fringe players have inspired the unlikeliest of comebacks in football history twice within 24 hours; sending the world into a frenzy of “Impossible is nothing” and “Never give up”(thanks to Mo Salah).

 Football has a way of rewarding such fringe players when honours are being collected at the end of the season (think back to Kompany’s potentially title-deciding goal on Monday). Liverpool lined up for the Champions league anthem in their semi-final against Barcelona filled with belief; the rest of the world looked at their missing players and the task of a four-goal mission impossible. Somewhere in that line-up was Divock Origi, the 24-year-old with a number of heroic goals already this season, starting in place of injured Bobby Firmino.

Origi celebrates his second goal. Image: Tom Jenkins/The guardian

 Where Origi stepped up, Messi faltered. Liverpool hassled and harried Barcelona in their usual frenetic manner for 90 minutes but this was different. They were fighting for glory, fuelled by passion and the incredible spirit that Jürgen Klopp has instilled in them. Trent Alexander-arnold’s smart, quick corner-kick and Origi’s finish sealed it, who said this was a normal game?

Tottenham’s ecstatic players celebrate in a heap. Image: AP

 Over in Amsterdam 22 hours later, Tottenham Hotspurs were deciding their destiny against this season’s unlikely giant-killers Ajax. The Spurs are having a woeful end to the season; losing their last game against Bournemouth with 9 men and surrendering third place to Chelsea. They Lost four of five games since the madness of a quarter-final second leg at the Etihad.

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 The start of this game was set to continue the trend of Spurs’ shambolic form. Two-nil down at half time but they had other ideas.

 Lucas Moura was starting this game because Harry Kane has been injured. His speed was important in getting past Ajax’s technically-gifted youngsters and feeding on passes from Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen. The Brazilian notched his second hat trick in a matter of weeks; but Fernando Llorente coming on was different class. He gave Matthijs De Ligt a handful and allowed spaces for Moura, Alli, Eriksen and Son Heung-Min to thrive on.

Hat trick hero Lucas Moura. Image: Getty

 Ajax lost the mentality with which they had played throughout the tournament in that second half. Perhaps they could have scored more having hit the post.

 They could not cope with Spur’s harrying and lost the ball as the belief gradually seeped out of their hearts.

Harsh, but Ajax had to get knocked out by a moment like Lucas’ last-gasp goal. They had enjoyed a thoroughly positive campaign and showed resilience alongside their wonderful brand of football, winning supporters and admirers.

 Spurs’ fantastic second half turnaround is all thanks to Mauricio Pochettino. The manager was fantastic inspiring a victory out of this side who have lost their way and key men recently. Spurs matched – and arguably surpassed – Liverpool’s ‘mentality giants’. Poch fell on his knees in tears and could not control his emotions up until the post-match interview. It’s been an emotional season for the previously stoic Argentine; who has had to maintain consistent results during the distraction of a delayed stadium project. The Mike Dean outburst at Burnley was a low, and last night was an all-time high.

Mauricio Pochettino in tears. Image: BPI/REX

 Now we witness an all-English Champions League final involving two groups unwilling to give up; fired up by the extraordinary circumstances that got them there. Ironically, these are the habitual bottlers of recent years in the Premier League who emerged from groups of death. These two have fought all their way through this year’s competition and one would finish with disappointment come June 1st.

 I really cannot feel for those who do not love football.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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