MAN CITY 4, TOTTENHAM 3
(4-4 on aggregate, Tottenham won on away goal)
Ecstacy turned to despair in a split second of stoppage time as Manchester City’s dream of the quadruple ended on a dramatic night at the Etihad.
Raheem Sterling looked to have won an enthralling contest in the second of five minutes of added time to a deafening roar.
But there was hushed silence as referee Cuneyt Cakir assessed a VAR replay which ruled Sergio Aguero was offside in the build-up.
Suddenly the delight turned to despair as City’s dream of conquering Europe was over after a match which will go down in Champions League history as one of its classics.
There was a mesmerising opening – four goals in the opening 11 minutes – as City took a fourth minute lead through Raheem Sterling to wipe out the 1-0 deficit from the first leg.
Two goals in three minutes from Son Heung-min put Spurs 3-1 ahead on aggregate.
City hit back with goals from Bernardo Silva and Sterling to establish a 3-2 lead on the night after 21 minutes.
They needed a fourth goal to move ahead and that came on the hour from Sergio Aguero.
Now Spurs needed to score and substitute Fernando Llorente did that with 17 minutes left, aided by a VAR decision that proved he did not handle the ball.
And so to the drama in stoppage time when City had defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.Embed from Getty Images
“It was close to go through. It is cruel but we have to accept it,” explained manager Pep Guardiola.
“It was a nice game for everyone – 3-2 after 20 minutes and in the second half. It was a sad end for them but we gave everything and football is unpredictable.
“We missed a penalty in the first leg and crated a lot of chances tonight. It was a bad end for us, but congratulations to Tottenham and all the best to them for the semi-finals.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have done in the last two seasons and we have only reached the semi finals once in our lives.”
Guardiola added he remains firmly behind VAR as he is for “fair decisions”.
He pointed out from one angle Llorente looked to have handled the ball.
Spurs’ manager Mauricio Pochettino described his players as “heroes” and was proud of them for reaching the semi finals.
“To score three goals here against Manchester City is not easy and difficult to see them concede goals like they did today,” he said.
City made only one change from the side that won so convincingly at Crystal Palace on Sunday as Bernardo Silva replaced Leroy Sane.
Spurs, who fielded a weakened side in Saturday’s 4-0 home win against Huddersfield Town, made seven changes in a new-look line-up.
City could not have dreamed of a better start as they wiped out the first-leg deficit inside four minutes through Sterling.
Kevin De Bruyne sprayed the ball out wide left to Sterling who cut inside and bent a shot low into the far corner giving keeper Hugo Lloris no chance.
In an explosive opening, Spurs were level in the seventh minute through Son.
Dele Alli played a forward pass which rebounded off Aymeric Laporte to Son whose shot deflected off the legs of Ederson into the roof of the net.
And worse was to follow for City when Spurs took the lead in the 10th minute when Cristian Eriksson found Son who bent a shot from the edge of the box into the roof of the net.
In a crazy opening, City made it 2-2 in the 11th minute when Aguero found Bernardo Silva whose shot deflected off Danny Rose and beyond Lloris.
The excitement continued as City regained the lead in the 21st minute from a quickly taken free kick.
The ball was played to De Bruyne on the right and his low cross was converted at the far post by Sterling with an angled shot. It was 29th goal of a remarkable season in which he has also provided 14 assists.
It was the first time in Champions League history that five goals had been scored in the first 21 minutes of a match.
Son came close to completing a first half hat-trick when his shot from the left of the box was only one yard wide of the far post.
City almost added a fourth goal soon after the restart when Sterling was denied his treble by a decent save from Lloris while Bernardo Silva scrambled the loose ball wide.
And they went close again when Lloris pulled off a super stop to keep out a fiercely-struck shot from De Bruyne.
Spurs came close to equalising when Llorente’s header was parried by Ederson.
Moments late City added a fourth goal when Ilkay Gundogan and De Bruyne set up Aguerp who blazed home an unstoppable shot from seven yards high into the roof of the net.
It was De Bruyne’s third assist of the night, the first time a player had three assists in a Champions League match since Ryan Giggs for Manchester United against Roma in 2007.
City made their first change mid-half when David Silva made way for Fernandinho.
Spurs pulled it back to 4-3 in the 73rd minute and take the overall lead through Llorente.
But there was an agonising wait for it to be checked by VAR and then referee Cakir for a possible handball. Replays showed the ball brushed the Spaniard’s thigh.
City had 17 minutes to find a fifth goal to take them through to the semi-finals.
Lloris made a flying save to keep out Aguero’s header.
City had to go for broke and with six minutes left, left-back Benjamin Mendy was replaced by Sane.
Spurs had brought on defenders Ben Davies and Davinson Sanchez to protect their aggregate advantage.
Two minutes into stoppage time it looked as though City had snatched victory after Bernardo Silva dispossessed Eriksen.
City broke as Aguero set up Sterling who found the net and was convinced he had booked a semi-final place.
But the joy was short-lived as VAR ruled out the goal as City ran out of time in pursuit of a fifth goal that would have earned victory.