Manchester City’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple of trophies ended in dramatic fashion as Tottenham progressed to the Champions League semi-finals on away goals as a pulsating 4-3 win for City was not enough to overturn their 1-0 first leg deficit.
Four goals were scored in a crazy opening 11 minutes as Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva cancelled out two Son Heung-min away goals for Tottenham.
City finally looked set for the last four when further goals from Sterling and Sergio Aguero put them ahead in the tie for the first time.
But there was a further twist when Fernando Llorente’s controversial goal 17 minutes from time was allowed to stand despite a VAR check for handball by the Spaniard.
VAR intervened again deep into stoppage time to save Spurs once more when Sterling thought he had completed his hat-trick only for Aguero to be ruled off-side in the build-up.
Tottenham’s reward is a semi-final clash against Ajax.
There was a similar goalfest in the other quarterfinal between Liverpool and Porto as the English club won 4-1 away and 6-1 on aggregate to set up a mouth-watering semi against Barcelona.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SEMI FINALS & DATES
Ajax vs Tottenham
Barcelona vs Liverpool
1st legs, May 1 and 2 (AEST, 5am)
2nd legs, May 8 and 9 (AEST, 5am)
Sunday, June 2 (AEST) in Madrid
CITY’S QUADRUPLE QUEST IN TATTERS
Fernando Llorente celebrates the decisive goal. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Pep Guardiola will face more questions over his failure to land the Champions League three seasons into his City’s reign, but after a more conservative approach for the first leg was criticised, he set the tone for a thrilling 90 minutes.
Kevin de Bruyne was restored to the starting XI among four changes from the first leg and the Belgian showed why the decision to leave him out last week was so questioned.
De Bruyne drove at the heart of the Spurs defence before feeding Sterling, who cut inside and curled a wonderful shot into the far corner.
Guardiola had called for the home fans to finally produce an intimidating atmosphere on a European night at the Etihad.
However, they had barely retaken their seats by the time Tottenham were level. Aymeric Laporte cut out Dele Alli’s forward pass, but only turned the ball into the path of Son, whose shot had too much power for Ederson.
Three minutes later, City’s quadruple quest appeared in tatters as Laporte was again caught in possession, this time by LucasMoura and the Brazilian teed up Son to curl into the top corner for his 20th goal of the season.
Yet, a kamikaze opening 11 minutes had another twist as Bernardo’s effort deflected off Danny Rose and wrong-footed Hugo Lloris at his near post.
By the midway point of the first-half, City were back in front as Bernardo and De Bruyne played creators once more and Sterling finished off a low cross at the back post.
Spurs’ hopes of holding on to their advantage on away goal suffered another blow when Moussa Sissoko was forced off with an injury.
Mauricio Pochettino chose attack as the best form of defence by replacing the midfielder with Llorente in what proved to be a decisive change.
City started the second period with the same menace they did the first as Lloris denied Sterling before the French World Cupwinner made a brilliant stop to deny De Bruyne the goal his performance deserved.
However, De Bruyne had his hat-trick of assists on the hour mark as he surged through midfield before timing his pass for Aguero to perfection and the Argentine rifled past Lloris.
Finally ahead for the first time in the tie, Guardiola soon sent on Fernandinho to restore some sense of control, but City were pegged back again as an incredible tie swung back in Tottenham’s favour.
Kieran Trippier’s corner was bundled in by Llorente, but there was controversy as the ball seemed to hit the striker’s armon its way in.
After a VAR check, though, Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir stood by his original decision and the goal stood.
And VAR went against City again deep into stoppage time as delirium soon turned to disbelief inside the Etihad when what would have been a hat-trick for Sterling was ruled out.
EASY DOES IT FOR LIVERPOOL
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal. (AP Photo/Luis Vieira)Source:AP
A resurgent Mohamed Salah scored one and set up another to inspire Liverpool to a 4-1 win at Porto in their Champions League quarter-final second leg, teeing up a last-four clash with Barcelona.
The Reds, who eased through 6-1 on aggregate, held off Porto in the early stages on Wednesday before Salah and Sadio Mane combined for the Senegalese to put them ahead with their first shot on target.
Egypt striker Salah doubled the tally after the break and goals from Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk wrapped it up late on.
Porto had briefly reduced the arrears through Eder Militao but, having lost the first leg 2-0 at Anfield, never seemed in a position to overturn the deficit. Barcelona advanced when they won 3-0 in their second-leg against Manchester United, completing a 4-0 aggregate victory.
“Everybody was scared but I think the team spirit was great and we never gave up and we try to push harder … we created many chances and scored many goals so I think we deserve to win,” Mane told British media.
Five-times European champions Liverpool, who had produced a scintillating display to beat Porto 5-0 in the last-16 at the Dragao stadium last season, had a totally different approach this time.
They soaked up the pressure as Porto made an adventurous start, with Jesus Corona curling a powerful shot just over the bar in the opening minute. Jurgen Klopp’s side looked temporarily toothless, but they were just waiting for their moment — which came in the 26th minute.
Mane latched onto a cross from Salah to beat Iker Casillas from close range but he was initially flagged off-side, only for referee Danny Makkelie to check the VAR. After a two-minute review, the goal was given.
Facing the huge task of scoring four goals to qualify, Porto looked stunned, despite having attempted 15 shots before the interval.
Salah, who endured a goal drought in March, confirmed he was getting close to his best again when he coolly slotted the ball past Casillas after collecting a perfect diagonal through ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 65th minute.
Militao soothed the home fans’ suffering a little, heading home in the 69th minute, but Firmino and Van Dijk capped the result.