At half time it was a lost cause. The Ajax fans were in party mode – soaking up every moment of a memorable night in which their fine young team were marching towards the biggest match in European club football at our expense. All of that hope and excitement, which had been building throughout our extraordinary Champions League campaign, had been ruthlessly extinguished by this highly talented Ajax team. Over the course of the first 135 minutes of the tie, Ajax had played the perfect game. They had navigated their way through the tie with minimal drama and were comfortably on course for a final showdown with Liverpool in Madrid. We needed three second half goals with no reply. I looked for crumbs of anything that might give me the slightest bit of hope. There were none. Our form on the road has been wretched this calendar year with 9 defeats in our last 10 away matches. We had scored just one goal in our last 5 and a 1/2 games. In truth, we have been playing on empty for the best part of the last two months, with a patched up squad riddled with injuries, suspensions and ongoing fitness issues. Ajax on the other hand were flying – top of their league, they have scored an astonishing 154 goals this season. Last weekend they won the Dutch Cup with a 4-0 win against Willem II and they had only lost one game at home all season – to Real Madrid, who they subsequently dispatched comfortably in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu. Furthermore, Ajax had never lost a Champions League game after scoring first, in 49 previous matches. Only one team had ever won a European Cup semi-final having lost the first leg at home, and ironically that was Ajax. Needless to say, on that occasion they didn’t give their opponents, Panathinaikos, a two goal head start in the away leg as well so that they had a three goal deficit to reverse. Liverpool had scored three second half goals to complete a remarkable comeback in the other semi-final the night before, but that was with home advantage at Anfield, with Liverpool already in the ascendency, having been the better team against Barcelona for most of that tie. This was unchartered territory. This truly was miracle territory. Despite appearing to be dead and buried on several occasions throughout this Champions League campaign, we had somehow dug in and found increasingly perilous ways to survive. But this seemed like a bridge too far. We had all given up hope. All of us. Apart from the people that mattered. The ones dressed in Tottenham green and the main man in charge. With Wanyama struggling with the intensity of the game, Pochettino rolled the dice. If we go out 4-0, 5-0, so be it. This is cup football and we had nothing to lose. He went all in. Llorente for Wanyama. If we go down, we go down fighting. We leave everything on the field and end the game with no regrets. That is his mantra. What unfolded over the next 45 minutes (plus 5, and the rest, added on) will live with me forever. At the start of the second half, there was no expectation – the pressure was off, the tension had gone. When Lucas Moura scored his first, which was a beautifully crafted counter attack, it was barely worth a celebration. A consolation goal, but at least we had registered. We had, at last, landed a blow. In hindsight, although this won’t be the goal that is replayed over and over again, it was perhaps the most significant moment of the tie. It was the blow that dazed our opponents and crucially reversed the momentum of the tie. It introduced the self doubt that was nowhere to be seen prior to that moment. Within four minutes, one became two. Onana’s heroics in denying Llorente from point blank range counted for nothing as he and Lasse Schöne got themselves in a muddle from the rebound and in the flash of Lucas Moura’s impossibly quick feet, it was level on the night and we were one goal away from qualification with half an hour to go. All of a sudden, this was on. I believed again. Why do they always do it to us?! Ajax were on the ropes. They were panicking. They dropped a bit deeper. They stopped asserting themselves on the game and sat back to a more counter attacking style, which actually would have rendered Wanyama redundant anyway. They started to play into our hands. We pushed forward relentlessly in search of the winner. Heung-Min Son, who had been billed as the returning saviour after his suspension, huffed and puffed but was trying too hard to land the killer blow himself. And as we pushed, we left ourselves open to Ajax killing the tie on the counter attack. Hakim Ziyech, who had assisted the only goal of the first leg and scored Ajax’s second on the night, let rip again from the edge of the box – the base of the post came to our rescue, just as it had in the first leg when David Neres went close to doubling Ajax’s advantage. Jermaine Jenas in commentary was telling us “something is happening here”. Could the footballing gods, who came to our rescue at the Etihad in the last round in the shape of a VAR offside call, be looking down kindly on us again? Lamela for Trippier with ten minutes to go. All out attack. A reshuffle with Sissoko moving to right back, or right wing as that position had now become. Toby and Jan were now patrolling the back door with Eriksen just in front to recycle possession and feed the maelstrom of attacking players ahead. There was a sense that we would get one more chance. I’m on my knees. I can’t breathe. The tension is now unbearable. 85 minutes and we get a corner on the right. With Trippier departed, it was down to Eriksen to deliver. A flick on at the near post and Jan Vertonghen is unmarked at the far post. My heart skipped a beat. I’m watching it in slow motion as he heads onto the bar. It bounces back. Jan gets a second chance but he can only make weak contact and it’s cleared off the line. Agony. That was THE chance. We’ve surely blown it. We’re not going to get a better chance than that. I lay on the floor on my back staring at the ceiling, staring into the abyss with my dreams in tatters. The sand continued to drain through the hourglass. 5 minutes of injury time. We’ll take that. Hugo made a diving save from Ziyech again. It’s still just one goal! One more push. Come on Tottenham!! And then, another corner. 94th minute. Everyone up. Even Hugo’s sprinting up the field to join in. Llorente gets his head to it but it bounces harmlessly over the bar. Resignation. That must be that. Onana will take as long as physically possible to take the goal kick, as he has throughout this two legged tie from the moment Van De Beek put Ajax ahead in the first leg, and it’ll all be over. And we’ll all be put out of our misery. We can be proud that we put up a fantastic fight after looking down and out at half time, but we’ve given ourselves too much to do. This was one slow start too many. A miracle too far. Finally Onana gets the booking that his time wasting deserved and play restarts. After some head tennis, it lands at the feet of Sonny. He lays it off to Moussa who launches one final “Hail Mary” up the field. Llorente challenges and it falls to Dele on the edge of the D. He’s flicks it forward. It’s Lucas. It’s Lucas!!! Oh my god! [Insert expletives.] We’ve done it! We’ve bloody done it! And then… absolute carnage. Limbs everywhere. I’ve completely lost it. This was euphoria unconfined. There’s no way back for Ajax. It’s the last kick of the game. It IS the last kick of the game, right? It must be. We scored in time added on to added-on time. Blow the final whistle ref! Ajax line up with eight players across the halfway line rugby style and launch it. The fabled philosophy has gone out of the window. It eventually falls to Dele in the right back position and he concedes a throw. Veltman channels his inner Rory Delap. Everyone up. How is the ref still playing? Cleared to Lamela. He’s dribbling it out of his final third and loses it – what are you doing you idiot?! Just f***ing clear it! The ball comes back to Lamela and he’s still calm – he plays it to Lucas who gives it to Sissoko. Go to the corner! Ref??!!! Blow the whistle! Sissoko turns back and turns over possession. What the… and he blows. He blows. The blessed shrill sound of the whistle that tells me the agony is over. It’s over! We’ve done it! We’ve done it! Poch collapses in tears. I collapse in tears. Jenas is crying too. We’re all crying. We can’t believe it. Fairytales don’t happen to us. They just don’t. They happen to other teams. Not Spurs. Pochettino warned us before the quarter final second leg against Manchester City that we would suffer. We would have to suffer for long periods. No problem. Our fan base is well used to that. We’ve been suffering for years. Suffering from disappointment. Suffering from inferiority. Suffering from a lack of belief. And that truly is the magic of Pochettino. How he has instilled belief in this group of players. Belief that with hard work and full commitment, giving everything for the shirt, that we will get our rewards and anything is possible. They never stopped believing last night. Not even at half time when it seemed that all hope was lost. Maybe the fans are still some way behind in that respect; just waiting for that inevitable sucker punch that has always floored us in the past. We are having to relearn the rule book of supporting this great club as Pochettino and his inner circle rewrite it. The raw emotion shown by the players, the coaching staff and of course the manager himself at the final whistle filled me with greater pride than the victory itself. Their passion for the club now mirrors that of those fans who were high up in the corner of the Johann Cruyff Arena last night, and of everyone else watching on television back home. There is a genuine connection between all of us. This is the magic of Pochettino. He has united our club. He feels what we feel. They all do. We win together. We lose together. We suffer together. We celebrate together. Fairytales never used to happen to Tottenham Hotspur. Not in my lifetime anyway. They do now. Against all the odds, we’re going to Madrid for the first European Cup final in our history. Thank you Mauricio Pochettino. He’s magic you know.