Uefa Champions League quarter-final second leg Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3 (4-4 on aggregate, Tottenham win on away goals)
Was this the greatest game in Champions League history? It’s up there with the best of them. Certainly there is unlikely ever to be another opening quarter as dramatic as the one the Etihad witnessed on Wednesday night.
Five goals, three of them from Manchester City, made the tie all square on aggregate, and when Sergio Aguero blasted a fourth for the hosts on the hour mark it put the Sky Blues ahead. But there was still plenty of action to come in his heart-stopping thriller.
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On 72 minutes Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente rose at the near post to meet a corner and the ball hit his thigh and flew into the Man City net.
But had there had been some hand in there too? City thought so, but referee Cuneyt Cakir examined the VAR and agreed with Llorente that the ball had struck only his hip.
Tottenham’s advantage was restored but then in the fourth minute of stoppage time up popped Raheem Sterling to steal it for City.
Offside, cried Spurs, and once more the Turkish referee turned to VAR. To the dismay of City fans the pictures showed that Aguero was offside as he ran onto Bernardo Silva’s pass.
Agony for City, ecstasy for Tottenham, and a fitting denouement to a game that those present will be telling their grandchildren about half a century from now.
Not that it was a showcase for Premier League defences. In that crazy, chaotic, captivating first quarter both defences went AWOL. Raheem Sterling and Son Heung-min were not complaining though as they each scored twice.
City’s other goal came from a wicked deflection off Danny Rose as he tried to block Bernardo Silva’s shot. If Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris was left helpless by that slice of bad luck, he alone was to blame for City’s fourth, beaten at his near post by Aguero’s rasping shot.
But that will be forgotten this morning as Tottenham celebrate reaching the semi-final of the Champions League/European Cup for the first time since 1962.
Ajax await, and when asked if he believed his side could go on and win the tournament, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino replied: “Sport always gives you the possibility to beat teams that no one believes or thinks we are capable of.”
For City, there is still the quest for the domestic treble. The League Cup is already in the trophy cabinet but even if the Premier League crown and the FA Cup follow they won’t ease the pain of this Champions League defeat.
Reactions to the Etihad thriller
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “It is cruel but it is what it is and we have to accept it.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino: “It was unbelievable - the way it finished. I am so happy, so proud. My players are heroes to be here.”
Tottenham’s Dele Alli on Twitter: “UNREAL NIGHT!! WE’RE IN THE SEMIS!”
Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen: “It was a fun game. It was a rollercoaster, we gave them a lot but also got a lot it was a weird game.”
Tottenham’s Son Heung-min: “I have never seen something like this, It was tough and crazy but we are very proud of our team-mates. It was madness. Sometimes you are annoyed with VAR but today it is thank you.”
Injured Tottenham striker Harry Kane on Instagram: “Omggg! I love you boys!!!!”
Champions League semi-final draw and fixtures
- Barcelona vs. Liverpool
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Ajax
When are the semi-finals?
The Champions League semi-final first legs will be played on Tuesday 30 April and Wednesday 1 May. The second legs are on Tuesday 7 May and Wednesday 8 May.
Tottenham play Ajax at home in the first leg on 30 April. Spurs then travel to Amsterdam on 8 May.
Barcelona will host Liverpool at the Camp Nou on 1 May with the return fixture taking place at Anfield on 7 May.
All matches will kick off at 8pm UK time and are live on BT Sport.
Semi-final first-leg fixtures
- Tuesday 30 April: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Ajax
- Wednesday 1 May: Barcelona vs. Liverpool
Semi-final second-leg fixtures
- Tuesday 7 May: Liverpool vs. Barcelona
- Wednesday 8 May: Ajax vs. Tottenham Hotspur
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