History made as we reach Champions League semi-finals
City 4-3 Spurs (agg 4-4, Spurs progress on away goals)
Wed 17 April 2019, 22:18|Tottenham Hotspur
The team made Club history and matched the European Cup achievements of Bill Nicholson's greats of the early 1960s by reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in a thriller in the quarter-final, second leg at Manchester City on Wednesday night.
Where to start? We trailed, led, were going out with 72 minutes on the clock, looked to have rescued it, had that goal checked for VAR and then it looked like late, late agony when Raheem Sterling scored in the third minute of added time, only for VAR to step in again, correctly, and disallow that goal with Sergio Aguero in an offside position in the build-up.
That's not even half the story. Five goals were scored in the opening 21 minutes - the fastest five goals have been scored in Champions League history - and we had to recover from losing key man Moussa Sissoko to injury with only 41 minutes on the clock. That led to a tactical switch, Dele dropping deeper and Fernando Llorente coming off the bench to eventually score the decisive goal.
We now face Ajax in the semi-finals. Liverpool also progressed tonight and will face Barcelona.
Let's start at the start. Leading 1-0 from the first leg, Mauricio Pochettino made five changes to the team that started against Huddersfield on Saturday. Hat-trick hero Lucas Moura and Victor Wanyama both kept their places and Dele was back from injury.
How would this game pan out? Cagey? Goals? Well, the first goal arrived after just four minutes and five arrived by the midway point of the half. It was breathless stuff.
Sterling opened the scoring with a curler from the left angle but then a quick one-two from Heung-Min Son looked to have put us back in the driving seat. Son drove his first through Ederson from the edge of the box on seven minutes before a beauty, a curler from the left angle after good work from Lucas and Christian Eriksen. That was 2-1 on the night, 3-1 on aggregate, City needed four.
Bernado quickly responded via a deflection for 2-2 (3-2 to us on aggregate) then Sterling turned home Kevin De Bruyne's cross for 3-2 to City (3-3 on aggregate) on 21 minutes and both teams enjoyed spells in control up to half-time, although we lost Sissoko to injury just before the break, a blow.
Still needing a goal, City came out flying in the second half. De Bruyne, Sterling and Silva all had sights of goal and Hugo Lloris produced a world-class save to deny De Bruyne. We recovered from that to have a decent effort ourselves - Llorente's header saved by Ederson - but City found that crucial fourth goal on the break from our attack.
De Bruyne was involved again, this time breaking forward and releasing Aguero to lash home from the right angle, 4-2 on the night, 4-3 on aggregate to City. Now we needed a goal - and we found it 13 minutes later.
Son was initially denied by Ederson, we won a corner and this time, Kieran Trippier delivered a dipping inswinger into the near post that just missed Toby Alderweireld but found the hip of Llorente darting in. We had the first nerve-shredding wait as VAR looked at a possible handball but the goal was awarded and we were 4-3 down on the night, 4-4 on aggregate but ahead on away goals.
City threw everything at us. Lloris took Aguero's header at full length to his right, Ilkay Gundogan fired over from the left angle and suddenly, we were five minutes of injury time away from the last four.
Then the last, final, gut-wrenching twist. Eriksen lost possession, Bernardo flicked to Aguero, he found Sterling and the England star completed his hat-trick from close range with 93 minutes on the clock. City were through, 5-3 on the night, 5-4 on aggregate. The Etihad celebrated as our players slumped to the floor.
But wait a moment. VAR had stepped in. Aguero was offside! Goal ruled out! We were still ahead in the tie!
As the seconds ticked away, slowly, Dele chased into the corner, Son even had a chance for a hat-trick saved by Ederson but finally, finally, the whistle blew and we were through to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time, 57 years after reaching the last four of the European Cup in 1962.
It's impossible to separate the two key moments, both decided by VAR. Fernando Llorente's goal from Kieran Trippier's corner on 73 minutes gave us life in the tie when, once again, we looked down and out in the Champions League. Ultimately, that proved decisive. Then the decision to rule out Raheem Sterling's late fifth for City, a goal that would have taken this tie the other way. Our players were slumped on the Etihad turf in despair when replays showed Sergio Aguero was just offside in the build-up. Goal disallowed, back to 4-3 to City, 4-4 on aggregate - Ajax, here we come!
Speaking after all those emotions at the Etihad, Mauricio told us: "I’m very proud. As I said, whatever happened, my players are going to be heroes and I’m so proud of them. It was tough and to score three goals against City here is massive for us. I think we deserve to be in the semi-finals and now it’s about being sure we can arrive in our best condition.
"It’s a massive achievement for us. Now we try to enjoy but not too much because on Saturday we have another game here."
Reaction on Spurs TV
City 4-3 Spurs (agg 4-4, Spurs progress on away goals)
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson, Walker, Kompany (c), Laporte, Mendy (Sane 84), Gundogan, Silva (Fernandinho 63), De Bruyne, Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero. Substitutes (not used): Muric, Stones, Mahrez, Otamendi, Jesus.
Spurs (4-4-2): Lloris (c), Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose (Sanchez 90), Sissoko (Llorente 40), Wanyama, Eriksen, Dele, Lucas (Davies 82), Son. Substitutes (not used): Gazzaniga, Walker-Peters, Foyth, Skipp.
Goals: Manchester City - Sterling 4, 21, Bernardo 11, Aguero 59; Spurs - Son 7, 10, Llorente 73.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Sissoko 41, Son 48, Rose 54, Wanyama 78.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester.
Weather: Mild, 16 degrees at kick-off.