Tottenham's Lucas Moura 'living a dream' after Ajax heroics
Lucas Moura is "living a dream" following his heroics in Tottenham's last-gasp victory over Ajax that sent Spurs to their first-ever Champions League final on Wednesday.
The former Paris Saint-Germain forward scored a second-half hat trick, including the game-winner deep into stoppage time, to give his side a 3-2 win that got them through 3-3 on aggregate via the away goals rule.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with ESPN Brazil on Thursday, Lucas said he never imagined that such a moment would happen in his career.
"I'm living a dream, man. It's impossible to explain what I'm feeling right now. I've always dreamed about this, I always believed I'd play a Champions League final one day," Lucas said. "But not even in my best dreams I could imagine it would go down the way it went.
"Three goals, one of them in the finals seconds. It was amazing. Only football can provide that. This is a really special day, the most emotional of my professional career. It will -- no doubt about it -- be in my heart forever."
Without injured star striker Harry Kane, Mauricio Pochettino's men overcame a 2-0 half-time deficit at Johan Cruyff Arena to book a date with Liverpool in the June 1 final in Madrid.
Asked about the mood in the dressing room during the break, Lucas said it was a mix of frustration and encouragement.
"The locker room was disappointed after the first half because, in my opinion, we were playing a good game. And we had some chances that we couldn't turn into goals. Then they got two, and it got really hard to all of us," he said. "In the locker room, some guys were exalting saying that we couldn't miss on those types of chances. Harry Kane himself tried to give us motivation.
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"The manager was really calm, he kept his cool, went to the drawing board and made the substitutions, told us how we would play in the second half. He told us we needed to score, that if we got one, we'd be back to the game. He said that in these types of moments, there's not a lot of tactics, we had to show heart, fight and that we had 45 minutes to play the best game of our lives.
"That's what we did."
The celebrations for the historic win moved from the field, to the dressing room, to the team bus, and beyond.
"The celebration... partying, the locker room, throwing water in the air, Gatorade in the air... making a mess, dancing, music, everybody really happy, even some slaps... man, everything. The post-match interview I'll never forget. I've never spoken English like that before," the former Sao Paulo star said. "The ride in the bus on the way to the airport... Just celebrating. This is a magical moment, and we don't know when we'll experience that again, so we have to enjoy the most of it because it's really hard to reach the semifinals, and then go to the final.
"It's the best moment of my career and of most of my teammates', so we have to enjoy the most of it. When I got home, I hugged my wife... it's hard to get home and say 'wow, just a few hours ago I scored three goals and we're on to the final,' it seems like I was in a movie, so it's really magical. Football... only football and provide that. It's the sport I love and the one that has been in my blood since the day I was born. Being able to experience what happened today... I can only thank God for everything."
Lucas is no stranger to heart-stopping finishes in the Champions League. He was on the pitch when Barcelona stormed to a 6-1 second-leg victory to knock out his PSG side in the 2017 round of 16 -- the Blaugrana scoring twice after 90 minutes to advance 6-5 on aggregate. And just last round, Spurs needed a VAR reversal of a stoppage-time Raheem Sterling goal to eliminate Manchester City.
"Football, eh... I can speak about it because I know both feelings very well. In my last season for PSG, I was in the match we lost against Barcelona. I think this was the single most painful match of my life. It's really bad... really bad to be on the losing side. It's complicated," he said.
"Playing for Spurs, I've been, thanks to God, two times on the winning side. Against [Man] City, when Sterling scored in the last minute, I was on the bench -- I had already been subbed out. I could only look down and cry. When I looked up, few seconds later, I saw that the goal was reversed. He was offside. The feeling changed. It became happiness again, I got emotional. A true whirlwind of emotions.
"Scoring the goal in the last minute yesterday ... it may sound incredible, but I was actually believing in the win. Even after we went 2-0 down, I believed that God would make a miracle, that we would be able to get the victory. It was in the last second, man. As I said, things that only football can provide. This is why football is so great, it's like a box full of surprises, it's really unpredictable. This is it. You cry in some games, you get really happy in others. It's part of the deal."