Mauricio's verdict on 'amazing' UCL second leg at City
Thu 18 April 2019, 01:11|Tottenham Hotspur
Mauricio Pochettino declared the players would be heroes whatever the outcome of the Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City – now they are history-makers at Spurs.
What an incredible night at the Etihad! This second leg had it all, and more.
We led 1-0 from the first leg but City forged ahead early through Raheem Sterling only for Heung-Min Son to hit a quickfire double to put us 2-1 up on the night and 3-1 up on aggregate. Suddenly, City needed four goals.
By the hour, they had them as Bernardo, Sterling and Sergio Aguero made it 4-2 on the night, 4-3 on aggregate.
We’d lost key man Moussa Sissoko in the first half as well but the man who replaced him turned out to be the hero as Fernando Llorente turned home Kieran Trippier’s corner on 73 minutes, the goal awarded after a VAR review. It was 4-4 on aggregate and we were ahead on away goals.
There was still an agonising twist though. Sterling looked like he’d won it for City in added time but as our players slumped to the turf in despair, VAR stepped in again, Aguero was ruled offside in the build-up and the goal disallowed. It stayed 4-3 on the night, 4-4 on aggregate and we progressed to the last four on away goals.
It’s the first time we’ve reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and the second time we’ve made it through to this stage of the European Cup after Bill Nicholson’s glory, glory team of the early 1960s reached the semi-finals at their first – and only – attempt in 1961/62. The European Cup was re-branded as the Champions League in 1992.
Mauricio said: “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 an amazing game. Manchester City are a great team. It was tough and to score three goals against them 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.”
Five of the game’s seven goals came in the first 21 minutes – the fastest five goals have been scored in Champions League history. It was breathtaking stuff.
“It was crazy, a crazy situation but sometimes that can happen in football, both teams playing forward trying to score goals,” added Mauricio. “It was an amazing spectacle.
“This is a massive achievement for us. Now we’ll try to enjoy it - but not too much because on Saturday we have another game here.”
We’re straight back up to the Etihad for a crucial Premier League game on Saturday (12.30pm) - City are chasing the title, we’re bidding for a top four finish.
Mauricio joined the players in celebration in front of our travelling fans on the final whistle. “It’s crazy, and normal to celebrate. There are a lot of emotions in 90 minutes.
“You feel so close to the players. You know the effort, what happens inside the changing room, at that moment you behave with a little freedom and it was great to share that emotion.”