Tottenham Hotspur have progressed to the final four of the UEFA Champions League on away goals, following a thrilling back and forth contest vs Manchester City.
The game was decided by a late Fernando Llorente goal, although VAR dominated the latter stages to see Mauricio Pochettino’s men through.
The Lilywhites will face Ajax in the final four.
Story of the match
The game started out as many games do at the Etihad, with the Citizens dominant in possession.
Often this season Pep Guardiola’s side have scored early, and did exactly the same here.
Raheem Sterling collected the ball on the left from Kevin de Bruyne before cutting inside and superbly bending the ball around Hugo Lloris – a perfect City start.
Down the year's Spurs have been labelled as a team to ‘bottle it’ on the big stage, although on this occasion it appeared far from the case.
The Lilywhites’ response was tremendous as they got straight on the attack. Heung-Min Son picked the ball up following a ricochet off Ayermic Laporte and placed it past Ederson – the Londoners had their away goal.
Two minutes later, it got even better for Pochettino’s men.
Son again picked the ball up, this time from the left flank, before cutting inside Kyle Walker and bending the ball stunningly into the top corner.
The Spurs fans, understandably in dreamland, then had their moment of crashing down to earth. In just the 11th minute, City got their noses level on the night.
Bernardo Silva’s tame effort from the right flank deflected off Danny Rose and trickled past a wrong-footed Lloris at the near post. 11 minutes played. 2-2. Insane start to the game.
The first four shots of the game ended up in the back of the net, although following this early flurry, both teams settled down into a steady rhythm, at least for 10 minutes.
De Bruyne’s overlapping run on the right flank was spotted by Bernardo, who picked out the Belgian. City’s number 17 then played a killer ball right across goal, picking out an unmarked Sterling for his second and City’s third. Tottenham now just leading on away goals.
Both managers were down on the touchline telling their players to calm down and take their time on the ball – both teams perhaps happy with the scoreline after half an hour.
As half-time approached and normality began to resume, chances become a less frequent occurrence. Sergio Aguero had his effort blocked from close range by Toby Alderweireld, and then Son came close to securing a memorable first-half hat-trick as he flashed the ball past Ederson’s goal from the left flank.
Into the second-half, it was all City.
Spurs’ defence was holding strong for the most part, although two world-class saves from Lloris, denying Sterling and de Bruyne ensured that the North Londoners stayed in front.
The Lilywhites game plan was clear – look to counter-attack. Substitute Fernando Llorente came close with a header that was well stopped by Ederson, before Guardiola’s men launched a counter-attack of their own.
De Bruyne again the centrepiece in City’s creative department as he picked the ball up inside the Spurs half and slid a perfect through-ball to Aguero, who lashed past Lloris and sent the champions of England into the lead.
The predicament that Spurs were then left with was how many men to throw forward, knowing that City are so strong at the back, yet so deadly on the counter-attack.
A few half-chances went to both sides before Tottenham were awarded a corner with 15 minutes to play.
Eriksen whipped the ball into the six-yard box, where Llorente stood to bundle the ball over the line.
The referee checked VAR to see if the ball had come off the arm of the Spaniard, adding to the nerves, before coming to the conclusion it had bounced off his hip and into the net. Pandemonium in the away end.
Now leading on away goals, Spurs knew what was coming their way – constant City pressure.
Lloris again saved the away side with a strong save off Aguero’s head before Ilkay Gundogan fired over the top following Leroy Sane’s knockdown.
Into the last five minutes, the tie was balanced on a knife-edge, with both sets of supporters roaring their team on.
With the game into injury time, Aguero placed the ball into the path of Sterling who poked into the net and sent the Etihad wild.. for a few moments.
VAR checked the goal and saw that Aguero was offside in the build-up – ruled out. Incredible drama.
Spurs held on for the last few moments and progressed to the last four.
A truly memorable Champions League tie that will be talked about for years to come.
Takeaways from the game
A new Tottenham?
Down the years, Spurs have adopted a title of ‘bottling it’ seemingly every time they’re under huge amounts of pressure.
Tonight this wasn’t the case, and the Lilywhites showed tremendous character to come from behind, whilst not at full strength, against one of the best sides in the world.
Time will tell as to where Spurs go from here, although Pochettino's men could use this victory as a stepping stone to a potential new beginning, in a new stadium for the Londoners – potentially very exciting times ahead.
Quadruple dreams dashed
Fighting on all front at this stage of the season is a tall order for any side, no matter how strong the squad depth is.
City did tremendously well to get this far in the Champions League whilst fighting on all fronts domestically, however, it could be the tiredness and sheer amount of games that has cost them in the end.
There’s no doubt the City will strengthen again and look for a first Champions League success next season, although may not get a better chance at the quadruple again for a long time.
Time for Guardiola to focus on the Premier League and securing the Emirates FA Cup.
The biggest surprise of the competition so far is the inclusion of Ajax in the last four.
The Dutch side beat Juventus last night and the winners of tonight's game knew they would face the underdogs in the semi-final.
Spurs will fancy their chances as favourites going into the tie, although will need to stay wary of the threat the fascinating young side pose, having already knocked out the champions of the competition, Real Madrid, this campaign.