Late VAR drama as Tottenham survive onslaught to win sensational quarter-final
Champions League quarter-final second leg, Etihad Stadium – Manchester City 4 (Sterling 4 21, B.Silva 11, Aguero 59) Tottenham 3 (Son 7 10, Llorente 73) – Tottenham progress on away goals, 4-4 on aggregate
A manic, barny, flying headrush of a match saw Tottenham somehow elbow themselves past Manchester City and into a semi-final tie with Ajax that promises to be every bit as good.
City were quickly into stride, and you feared for Spurs when their first-leg advantage was wiped out inside four minutes by a brilliant Raheem Sterling finish. But three minutes later they were level on the night and an away goal to the good, when Ederson guessed where Heung-min Son’s shot was going - incorrectly.
And just two minutes later, the tie looked almost over, Son curling home a gorgeous second, only for Spurs to lose concentration and immediately concede again, though Bernardo Silva needed help from a Danny Rose deflection. Nor was that the end of the first-half scoring, a brilliant cross from Kevin de Bruyne turned in at the far post by Sterling - though quite what Hugo Lloris was up to, allowing the ball to pass all the way across his goal, is impossible to fathom.
The second half was less manic, City racking Spurs and whaling on them until, eventually, a brilliant finish from Sergio Aguero put them ahead for the first time. At that point, it was hard to see Spurs coming back, but after they enjoyed a little more possession, inched into the lead once more when Fernando Llorente, on as a substitute for the injured Moussa Sissoko, deflected home a corner with his hip; the ref checked the replay for handball, but found nothing.
In the final period, Spurs looked more secure at the back than at any stage of the game, limiting City to pot-shots and half chances, but then, in the third minutes of injury-time, Aguero got free in the box and squared for Sterling, who showed remarkable composure to take a touch and complete his hat-trick as the Etihad went wild… and suddenly silent, as the officials checked for offside, and found that Aguero was it.
The goal was disallowed, Spurs saw out the remaining minutes, and the whistle blew to end one of the greatest games of association football that you will ever see; one of the greatest anythings that you will ever see.
Fernando Llorente celebratesGetty Images
What is wrong with some people? There are human beings with pulses, hearts and brains, who do not like football. I have no idea how they even exist, but take care of them because they clearly cannot take care of themselves.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City): Not the most decisive player, because his team didn't win, but the best player on the pitch by far, not just because of his three assists. If he'd played in the first leg, we may well have seen a different outcome.
Tottenham: Lloris 6, Trippier 5, Alderweireld 7, Vertonghen 5, Rose 6, Wanyama 5, Sissoko 6, Alli 6, Eriksen 6, Moura 6, Son 8. Subs: Llorente 7, Davies 6, Sanchez 6.
4’ - WHAT A GOAL! City 1-0 Tottenham (Sterling, agg 1-1). This is brilliantly done! De Bruyne picks it up wide on the right and immediately darts into Aguero; it's not perfect, but it's good enough and Aguero holds then feeds back. Now in the middle, De Bruyne spreads left, and Sterling cuts inside an admittedly pathetic tackle from Trippier to punch-curl a glorious finish into the far corner. What a player this man now is!
7’ - GOAL! City 1-1 Tottenham (Son, agg 1-2). Nice exchange between Moura and Eriksen, the latter taking the return and picking a nice little short pass to Alli on the edge of the box. He slides through to Son, and misses his target but the ball takes a kick off Laporte, then bounces into Son's path, and Ederson gambles, diving right when the finish goes central, kicking off his legs and rising into the roof of the net! City need to score twice now!
10’ - GOAL! City 1-2 Tottenham (Son, agg 1-3). Oh I say! Laporte's heavy touch allows Moura to rob him and he screeches forward then finds Alli, who finds Eriksen, who rolls to Son, 18 yards out, left of centre. And he opens his body to curl a dazzling, glorious, majestic, wondrous finish into the far corner! City need snookers!
Son Heung-min scoresGetty Images
12’ - I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I'M SEEING! GOAL! City 2-2 Tottenham (Bernardo, agg 2-3). I don't know. I DO NOT KNOW. City work the ball to Bernardo, wide on the right of the box, and he drills an OK shot that kicks off Rose to wrong-foot Lloris, and I don't even know anything anymore. City need two more without reply.
21’ - GOAL! City 3-2 Tottenham (Sterling, agg 3-3). Seriously, I've no idea what Spurs are doing and I've no idea what this even is, but this is also brilliant from Kevin de Bruyne who, after lovely close control from Bernardo, finds himself in space down the right and snaps a gorgeous low cross to the back post ... perfectly into the path of Sterling, who makes a tricky finish look easy, sliding into the net just like that. I've no idea what Lloris was playing at, allowing a ball across the face of his goal like that, but Spurs now lead on away goals.
59’ - GOAL! City 4-2 Tottenham (Aguero, agg 4-3). City lead! De Bruyne, the best player on the pitch by far, drives at the Spurs defence, inside-right, and slides into the space ahead of Aguero at precisely the right moment; Aguero is onto it in a trice, and absolutely mass-murders a vicious mutha of a finish that spits and hisses high past Lloris at the near post.
73’ - GOAL! City 4-3 Tottenham (Llorente, agg 4-4). THIS IS EVERY TYPE OF LUNACY! Trippier's corner goes to the near post, Llorente leaps, and hips it into the net! The ref is going to have a look at a video for handball! I think we're trying to see whether the ball flicked Llorente's wrist before it hit the hip. I don't think it did, and I certainly can't see for sure that it did .... IT'S A GOAL! SPURS LEAD AGAIN AND I AM RE-EVALUATING MY ENTIRE EXISTENCE!
90+3’ - AAAARRRRGGGH! GOAL... A HAT-TRICK FOR STERLING... NO, VAR! Spurs could clear the ball, but Eriksen loses possession and De Bruyne plays Aguero in! He squares to Sterling who, amazingly, has the presence of mind to take a touch .. before placing home! What composure! But hang on... we're going to VAR. AND AGUERO WAS OFFSIDE! THE GOAL IS DISALLOWED! I AM DEAD!
- Spurs are the seventh English club to reach the last four of the Champions League since the competition took on its new format, following Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Leeds, Chelsea and Arsenal.
- Spurs have reached their second European Cup semi, their first coming in 1962.