After what we have seen in the Champions League up to yesterday, we have thought the tournament could not get more interesting, but we could not be more wrong. What happened at Etihad Stadium can only be described as one of the best football matches ever played. The fixture was an absolute thriller with a result no one expected.
After the draw which put Tottenham and Manchester City against each other in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, many expected this was going to be the end of the road for Spurs, who were not too convincing in their Premier League campaign. Furthermore, Tottenham failed to win all of the 5 previous encounters with the Sky Blues, which translates into a 3 year long dry streak against their EPL opponents.
Not only was the history on the sides of Pep Guardiola and his men, but Manchester City was also considered to be a huge favourite to go all the way and win the tournament. However, by now we should have known football can be a very unpredictable game, which we have seen with our own two eyes in the 1/8 finals and quarter-finals when Ajax defeated two of the strongest teams in the world. While the quarter-finals between Spurs and Manchester City does not come close to Ajax impressive performances in a sense of a shocking result, the 2nd leg between the two English giants was surely one of the best football matches we have ever witnessed. The match simply had it all; two strong teams, plenty of goals, true English atmosphere created by the fans, and as the icing on the cake a late goal which was disallowed, only to add to the dramatic finish.
The first leg match between the two sides, which took place at a brand-new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on April 9th was a close one, with a slightly better performance from the home side, which got themselves a 1 goal lead before heading to Etihad Stadium. While the match could have easily ended in a 1:1, Aguero missed the penalty, which his team got only 13 minutes into the match. Despite the incredible chance which was wasted by Aguero, it was Tottenham who were arguably the better side and deserved to end the first leg with a goal advantage.
After a close match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the teams got ready to face off against each other at Etihad Stadium in what can be described as a proper football match.
The match did not take long to take off and turn the opening minutes into a warzone. Sterling was the player who produced the first goal of the match, barely 4 minutes into the match with a great shot from outside the box. It was a perfect start for Manchester City, and the stadium went wild. The enthusiasm of the City fans was clearly noticeable, but it did not take long for Tottenham to silence them with a goal of their own, which they scored exactly 3 minutes after they conceded. The Spurs hero was their star player Son Hueng-Min. Match continued in the same fashion; with plenty of opportunities on both sides, however, it was Spurs who once again used their chances better by scoring another goal in the 9th minute. The scorer was once again no other than Son with a nice curved ball into the top right corner of Manchester City goal. In the spirit of the match which bears in mind, saw 3 goals in 9 minutes of play time, City responded with an equalizer in the 11th minute with some help from Rose, who reflected Silva’s shot into his own net.
By then it was clear that neither side can defend their own goal, so it would be the better offensive side which would win. Match continued with both sides pushing for another goal, and while there were plenty of good opportunities, neither found their way to the opponents’ net, until the 21st minute, when a nice inside pass found Sterling, who scores his 2nd goal and got his team into the lead. For the remainder of the first half, we did not see any more goals, however, the match did not lack good opportunities.
The 2nd half started off with a better performance from City, who needed one more goal to avoid extra time and potentially penalties. Their attempts on goal were all reflected by Tottenham defence, until the 59th minute, when Aguero found his way to the net and sent his team into 4:2 lead. City pushed and pushed for another goal to guarantee them the promotion, but all their attempts went wide. Fast forward to 73rd minute, Spurs scored one of the most important goals of the season from a corner kick, which reduced the gap to only 1 goal, and ultimately meant they were going to advance into the next stage. From that minute onwards, the match was complete chaos, in a good way. With only 17 more minutes to go, City were in an unenviable position, desperately needing a goal to keep them afloat.
And then it came, the “icing on the cake”, 93rd minute, when Aguero passed the ball to Sterling, who found himself alone in front of the goalkeeper and in his own fashion converted the chance into a goal. Stadium went wild, Guardiola suddenly became 20 years younger and started jumping up and down the pitch, this was it, City finally managed to overcome Tottenham and got themselves a place in the semi-finals, and all that in the final minutes of the match! But City were too quick to celebrate, as the goal proved to be scored from an offside, which ultimately meant Manchester City got their goal taken away from them, and alongside the goal their ticket to the semi-finals.
With Tottenham winning against City, and Liverpool knocking out Porto, we got ourselves the four semi-finalists; Ajax vs Tottenham and Liverpool vs Barcelona.