Man City vs Tottenham result: Fernando Llorente sends Spurs into Champions League semi-finals

Manchester City 4-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Agg 4-4, Spurs win on away goals): Llorente ended City's quadruple bid with a late goal to win one of the most exciting football matches in European history

Mark Critchley
Etihad Stadium
@mjcritchley
Thursday 18 April 2019 08:47
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Mauricio Pochettino hails Tottenham heroes after thrilling win over Man City

Pep Guardiola demanded that Manchester City’s supporters help make this Champions League quarter-final second leg against Tottenham Hotspur the Etihad’s first great European night. The lesson? Be careful what you wish for.

There would be seven goals, five of them coming in a pulsating 17 minutes. The decisive seventh was contentious but given by VAR, and what-would-have-been a stoppage-time winner was ruled out by that same technology.

After all that, City’s attempt to win an unprecedented quadruple is over. Fernando Llorente’s dubious goal stood, Raheem Sterling’s did not and it is therefore Tottenham who will play against Ajax in the semi-finals.

It was, put simply, an incredible match. Both teams were guilty of costly lapses in concentration. Both made amateurish missteps in defence. But both, at the end of it all, were responsible for the most absorbing, exhilarating all-English European meeting in this competition's storied history.

Are you not entertained, City fans? In the end, probably not, no. After picking themselves up off the floor, they will have left lamenting a 4-4 aggregate away-goals defeat. Guardiola's attempt to take this team into at least the last four will stretch into a fourth year.

When Sterling opened the scoring inside four minutes, it seemed as though the 1-0 first-leg deficit could be quite easily overturned. Two quick-fire goals by Son Heung-Min challenged that but City's response was superb.

First through Bernardo Silva, then Sterling again and finally, in the second half, Sergio Aguero, they recovered from Son’s early sucker punch and took control for the first time in this tie.

But Tottenham were only ever one goal away from regaining command. Llorente’s goal hit his arm on its way in but survived a VAR check. Sterling’s strike, ruled out for offside, did not.

Same again on Saturday, then? It is difficult to see how the Premier League meeting between these two teams at this same ground two days from now will compare. The pace and intensity of this night will surely colour the occasion.

Perhaps that will aid City's quest to defend their domestic crown. Perhaps Tottenham spent all their energy here. Perhaps it will be just the three trophies, not the four. But this morning, that will be little comfort to Guardiola.

The evening began at a breathless pace and with Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian would be an island of calm in a frenetic first half, but he was also the one who set everything off, waltzing through Tottenham's central midfield and spotting Sterling in space of the left wing.

Sterling's marker, Kieran Trippier, had left his international team-mate with far too much room to cut inside onto his preferred right foot. Hugo Lloris saw step inside and curled shot into the far corner coming, yet could do nothing to prevent it.

City had the lead on the night they required after just four minutes, but would squander it after just three more. Aymeric Laporte made the first of two costly errors, intercepting but failing to trap Dele Alli's through pass. The ball rolled into the path of Son, who drove it in.

Son swung the tie in Tottenham's favour

Tottenham's aggregate advantage was restored and soon doubled by Son, courtesy of another Laporte mistake. The City centre-half's touch was uncharacteristically heavy, allowing Lucas Moura to nip in.

He was tracked well by Ilkay Gundogan and discouraged from shooting himself, but when Christian Eriksen found Son lurking on the brink of the box, his whipped, perfectly-placed attempt found the top right-hand corner.

Like against Liverpool at this stage of the competition last year, and like with Bayern Munich in previous seasons, a Guardiola side had collapsed in one sudden burst. In the past, they have been too shell-shocked to muster a response. Not this time.

Merely a minute after Son's second, Aguero saw an unmarked Bernardo, careering into the penalty area. His strike was untidy, deflecting off the inside of Danny Rose's leg, but that shift in movement was enough to divert the ball inside the near post.

Aguero came close to sending City through

There followed brief but precious ceasefire. When the guns cooled, we were largely left back where we started: Tottenham going through if the score stayed the same, City needing to score twice to progress in 90 minutes.

But, after eight minutes of relative quiet, Bernardo played De Bruyne in with a cute flick. A low pass was driven across the face of Lloris' goal and there was Sterling, at the far post, to convert.

That would be the end of it, for now. Tottenham returned to their dressing having conceded three and defended atrociously at points. Improvement was needed on their part, but they could not even hold out until the hour mark.

City's momentum was building to a deafening crescendo. When the goal came, it was typical Aguero: hit hard, at an acute angle, from a position where only the very best can profit.

Llorente was Tottenham's unlikely hero

What had seemed it doubt now appeared certain, especially as City continued to push for another goal, just to be sure of safe passage. Yet Tottenham were only one away from regaining the upper hand in this tie.

The ball bounced in off Llorente, hitting somewhere between his thigh and arm. It was not in an unnatural position, but Guardiola was one of many to spot the potential infringement. Pochettino wagged his finger. Referee Cuynet Cakir sided with the visiting manager.

Once again, City needed a goal. Any goal. Sterling thought he had found it in the five minutes of stoppage time, turning the ball home amid a crowded penalty area, finding the one corner of space left unguarded. The Etihad erupted, finally in full voice, but VAR intervened.

Aguero, at the same end of his most famous late intervention, had strayed marginally offside in the build-up, as an Eriksen pass richocheted into his path off team-mate Bernardo. By the book, it was offside.

A simply incredible game had its incredible, if cruel, finish. This was this stadium's first great European night, but not in the way Guardiola had intended.

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