Tottenham are through to their first ever Champions League semi-final despite a 4-3 defeat in a scintillating quarter-final second leg at Manchester City.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side qualified on away goals as VAR proved decisive, ruling out Raheem Sterling’s strike in added-on time after Fernando Llorente had made it advantage Spurs with 15 minutes remaining
With four goals in the first 11 minutes, four changes of the lead over the 90 minutes and drama right until the full-time whistle was blown, this was an all-time Champions League classic.
City opened the scoring through Raheem Sterling, Spurs turned the game on its head with a quick-fire Heung-min Son double, before Bernardo Silva, Sterling and Sergio Aguero gave Pep Guardiola’s men the advantage.
But Llorente nudged the ball over the line with his hip from a corner to send the travelling Spurs fans wild and set up a semi-final with Ajax, but only after technology had made its mark.
AS IT HAPPENED: Manchester City 4-3 Spurs
AS IT HAPPENED: Porto 1-4 Liverpool
City struck first and it was their player of the season Sterling who gave them the perfect start. He was given far too much time and space by Kieran Trippier in the box, shifted the ball onto his right foot and bent the ball into the far corner beyond Hugo Lloris.
Spurs responded immediately. After neat football, a deflection bounced the ball into Son’s path. His finish was low and straight at Ederson, but the Brazilian had dived to his left and the ball went straight through his legs and into the back of the net.
Son was not done there, doubling his tally for the night with a sumptuous finish into the top corner on ten minutes. Much like Sterling’s opener, he moved the ball onto his right foot and bent the ball out of reach of Ederson.
Just one minute later and it was all-square again. The fastest four goals ever scored at the start of a Champions League game. Bernardo slipped into the box down the right, poked the ball towards goal and a huge deflection off Danny Rose saw the ball trickle into the back of the net.
A bonkers first quarter of the game was complete when Sterling’s second put City ahead on the night for the second time. Kevin De Bruyne’s perfectly weighted ball across the face of goal gave the England winger a simple tap in at the back post.
City were on top for much of the rest of the half but it was again Son who went closest to adding to the scoring, flashing an effort across goal and just wide of Ederson’s left post.
Lloris, who has made a number of high-profile errors this season, produced two important saves shortly after the break. The first kept out a low Sterling effort and was then hacked clear by Danny Rose as Bernardo looked to pounce on the rebound. De Bruyne then tested him with a well-struck effort from the edge of the box, which he punched away with his right hand, diving towards his right.
Ederson was the next keeper called into action as Llorente, brought on in the first half for the injured Moussa Sissoko, stooped in to win a low header.
Barely two minutes after Ederson kept Llorente out, Aguero put City ahead on aggregate for the first time in the tie. De Bruyne drove at the Spurs defence, slipped the striker in and the Argentine powered his shot beyond Lloris.
The ridiculous tie was not done there though. Spurs fought back and put themselves in the driving seat 15 minutes from time. Llorente bundled the ball over the line at the front-post from a corner and, after a lengthy VAR check, the referee confirmed it went over the line via his hip and not his arm.
Aguero saw a header saved and Ilkay Gundogan blasted over from close-range, before VAR made its biggest intervention on English soil. Sterling looked to have completed his hat-trick in the 93rd minute, slotting past Lloris after Aguero had pounced on a loose ball over the top.
As the Etihad went wild, VAR checked the strike and Aguero was shown to be narrowly offside as he received the ball, sending the entire stadium into shock.
The full-time whistle saw Pochettino roar with delight, while Guardiola headed straight down the tunnel. Spurs will take on Ajax in the semi-finals, while Manchester City have once again fallen short in Europe and the question now is what impact will this have on their league form.
— Harry Kane (@HKane) April 17, 2019
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