By Hanning Mbabazi
Fernando Llorente was a hero for Tottenham as his late goal sent Spurs through to the Champions League semi-finals on away goals, despite losing 4-3 to Manchester City on the night. Pep Guardiola recalled Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva to the starting XI after missing the first leg. And it was the Belgian who was involved in the build-up as City got off to a perfect start. He played a one-two with Sergio Aguero before playing it out wide to Sterling. The winger cut inside Kieran Trippier far too easily and curled a stunning strike into the far corner, leaving Hugo Lloris absolutely helpless. It was far from ideal for Tottenham, who had watched their one-goal lead evaporate within four minutes of the first whistle, but it took them just three minutes to get back level.
Lucas Moura drove forward from midfield but his pass was cut out by Aymeric Laporte. The French defender made a rare error, fluffing his clearance, and Son slotted underneath Ederson from the edge of the box, with the Brazilian also not covering himself in glory. Spurs then could see the semi-finals waiting for them in the distance when they took the lead just minutes later- and it was another dreadful Laporte error that led to it. The defender took an awful touch, Lucas Moura pounced onto it and Tottenham came forward again. Eriksen cleverly found Son at the back post and found the far corner in emphatic fashion. City were shell-shocked by their sudden collapse but refused to lie down and within a space of two minutes of the frenetic contest, they were level at 2-2 on the night after just 11 minutes of play. Bernardo Silva found himself in acres of space at the far post and the Portuguese’s effort deflected off Danny Rose to trickle past Lloris to level the scores. Those four goals inside the first 11 minutes broke the Champions League record but the teams were far from finished.
Just nine minutes later, De Bruyne was played in down the right flank and he sent a dangerous cross across the face of the goal. It evaded everybody except Sterling, who finished with aplomb past Lloris. After the interval, City came out of the blocks quickly and Tottenham struggled to cope with the wave-after-wave of attacks. It wasn’t long before Lloris was forced into action with a stunning save to deny De Bruyne after the Belgian had rifled one towards the top corner. The Frenchman could do nothing to stop the next shot facing him, though. And after seeing his team-mates get on the score-sheet, Aguero decided it was time to get in on the act. The excellent De Bruyne went on a storming run through the middle and threaded a precise pass into Aguero’s feet. The Argentine didn’t even hesitate, thundering a ferocious effort into the roof of the net to give City the lead for the first time in the tie.
Spurs couldn’t believe it, having been 3-1 up on aggregate with two away goals and soon Pochettino’s men rallied. Llorente headed straight at Ederson before Son’s shot was blocked by the Brazilian. From the resulting corner, Spurs got back in front in bizarre fashion when Llorente bundled home Eriksen’s delivery. The decision went to VAR for a possible handball but after a minute’s deliberation, Cuneyt Cakir allowed the goal to stand. Guardiola sent on Leroy Sane late on in search of a winner while Spurs attempted to shut up shop with Ben Davies and Davinson Sanchez coming on in the dying moments. City thought they had won it as Sterling netted in injury time, but a VAR review ruled out the effort after Aguero was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up. Tottenham survived to edge this classic Champions League tie and secured their place in the Champions League semi-final for the first time in their history.
Man City Vs Tottenham Line-ups:
Man City XI: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Silva, Sterling, Aguero, Bernardo Silva
Subs: Muric, Stones, Sane, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus.
Tottenham XI: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Sissoko, Wanyama, Alli, Eriksen, Lucas Moura, Son
Subs: Gazzaniga, Sanchez, Lamela, Llorente, Foyth, Davies, Skipp
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir