Spurs, Liverpool in Champions League semis
MANCHESTER – After an astonishing encounter at the Etihad Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur reached the semi-finals of the Champions League on away goals following a 4-3 defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday.
Spurs, who won the first leg 1-0 and progressed after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate, will play Ajax Amsterdam for a place in the final against Liverpool or Barcelona after one of the most remarkable matches in the competition’s history.
The contest exploded into life in the fourth minute when Sterling put City in front, receiving a ball from Kevin De Bruyne on the left flank and then cutting inside onto his right foot before beating Hugo Lloris with a beautiful, curling shot into the far corner.
Three minutes later though, Spurs drew level when City’s French defender Aymeric Laporte’s attempted clearance fell straight at the feet of Son Heung-min whose low shot flew in off the leg of City keeper Ederson.
Laporte was also at fault for Spurs’ second in the 10th minute when he gifted the ball to Lucas Moura, the Brazilian feeding Christian Eriksen who found Son, the brilliant South Korean finishing superbly into the far corner.
City responded immediately as Aguero fed Bernardo Silva and the Portuguese winger’s left-foot shot deflected off Danny Rose and beat the wrong-footed Lloris to make it 2-2 on the night.
The dangerous Sterling struck again in the 21st minute to level the aggregate score, ghosting in at the back post to convert a low cross from De Bruyne that had zipped across the face of the goal.
A thundering strike from Aguero in the 59th minute put City in the driving seat again, but they were stunned in the 73rd minute when Spurs substitute Fernando Llorente bundled in a Kieran Trippier corner to restore the London club’s advantage through away goals.
With officials unsure if the ball had bounced off the Spaniard’s hand or rolled off his hip in the goalmouth scramble, VAR was called into action and the goal stood for Spurs — a decision Guardiola questioned after the game.
Then came the stoppage time video torture for the home support — Aguero burst down the right flank and delivered a low cross for Sterling to slot home what would have been his hat-trick goal.
The VAR call was correct and the Premier League champions were out — to the delight of Pochettino and his players who celebrated wildly in front of the travelling Spurs support.
A resurgent Mohamed Salah scored one and set up another to inspire a clinical Liverpool to a 4-1 win at Porto in their match that teed up a last-four clash with Barcelona.
The Reds, who eased through 6-1 on aggregate, held off Porto in the early stages before Salah and Sadio Mane combined for the Senegalese to put them ahead with their first shot on target following a VAR review.
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, they never seemed in a position to overturn the deficit. (Reuters)