Wow. What a result. It is the next morning now and I am still elated. It is a night to remember for Tottenham Hostpur, that’s for sure.
So we travelled to Manchester last night, for a Champions League Quarter Final match against Manchester City, at the Etihad, for a chance to play in a Champions League Semi-Final… It doesn’t get much bigger, and is easily one of the biggest nights of our clubs history, or to recent memory at least. We went into the game with a slim 1-0 lead, with no away goals conceded. It would be a night of drama, stress, deflation and ecstasy. And I’m ready to go through it all again in my review. Strap yourselves in boys! This is gonna be a long one.
As I said, we went into the game with a goal advantage, after Sonny put us ahead and gave us the win in the home leg. In this tie we were without Harry Kane and Harry Winks. Nevertheless we went with what was arguably our strongest lineup. A 4-2-3-1 is what was chosen by Poch, Lloris in goal as always, with Toby and Jan in CBs. Rose and Trippier both returned and needed big nights ahead. Wanyama was in midfield next to Moussa Sissoko. With Eriksen, Dele, the recent hattrick scorer Lucas Moura, and Son up top. As I said, probably our strongest lineup with the absences we have. My worry was that our only real attacking presence on the bench was Llorente, but anyway, we go on.
I think the main thing was not to concede early on! And thankfully we managed that. For 4 minutes. As we expected, Man City came out of the gates flying, and Sterling curled in a beautiful shot from the edge of the box into the far right corner. My only gripe here would be Trippier’s positioning, leaving far too much space for Sterling, and not closing him down nearly enough before the shot. And you’d think it would’ve rocked us massively but no. It was our turn to attack, and in a matter of minutes, 3 to be exact, we were level! Our man of the moment Heung Min Son slotted the ball under Ederson after the ball fell to him following a bit of luck, but we weren’t bothered! A vital away goal, and game on, as City now needed to score two to qualify now, something definitely not beyond their capabilities. However we were just about to make things a lot harder for them!
Another mere 3 minutes later Sonny did it again! On another counter, completely against the run of play. Lucas countered, passed to Eriksen, who played it down to Son, beautifully bending it into the right corner, similar to Sterling’s earlier on. We were up by one, and by two in the tie. With City now needing to score 3! Now at this point I thought it was a huge goal, and I thought it might just be enough to do it, but yep, I was wrong. Literally 4 minutes later, City attacked again, Bernardo Silva getting the final shot off, which rebounded off and under Rose and past Lloris. And it was 2-2. Just over 10 minutes played and yeah it was already 2 goals a piece. An utterly ridiculous game for the neutral, and an utterly stressful game for us Spurs fans. However, we were not out of it yet. City still needed 2 more, due to our away goal advantage, so maybe if we could hold out until half time we could regroup at the break before going again. But oh no we didn’t. A whole 10 minutes passed without a goal, I know right what was everyone doing… But it was Sterling again who latched onto a De Bruyne pass across the face of goal, slotting the ball in after 21 minutes. Now it was looking worse. They continued to attack, but we held out until half time.. Just. And breathe.
We were down 3-2, 3-3 on aggregate but crucially, still going through. Man City had more goals in them, so we needed to score again. But we were not going to have much chances left, so had to take them if and when they arrived. Our main issue was that the ever-reliable Moussa Sissoko, sadly had to go off just before half time, another injury to one of our main men this season. Llorente replaced him, and our attacking options off the bench were now gone. We were in for a massive second half, 45 minutes away from a Champions League semi final…
Second half began much like the previous ended, City attacking hard, fast and constantly. We held on and held on, making some fantastic blocks, interceptions and saves from the skipper. But then the 59th minute came, and Sergio Aguero smashed the ball in at the near post from the right side of the box. It was 4-2 City, and 4-3 on aggregate. And with a team like City who more thank likely always have more goals in them, it wasn’t looking grand. However as another 10 minutes passed, we created a chance or two, unfortunately not taking them. But, at 73 minutes in, our moment came.. Trippier took a delightful corner in from the left, which came off Llorente before finding its way into the net. VAR was consulted… Halting all Spurs celebrations. It was claimed to have struck his arm, to which upon review, the referee Cüneyt Çakir did not see it, and ruled it as a goal to us. My argument would be whilst it appears to brush his arm, it neither drastically affected the ball or came off it, or was in an unnatural position.
Anyway, moving on, I know, lots to talk about. We were back on top and going through… just! But we needed to hold on, and had just over 20 minutes to do so. City weren’t dying, and they were on us again and again and again. My heart was in my mouth, as it had been for basically all of this match.. And just when it maybe felt like we were going to do it.. It happened. Eriksen carelessly lost the ball just in front of our box, it fell to Aguero, who squared it to Sterling… slotting it in from close range.. Heartbreak. I was devastated. We had dug so deep, and couldn’t quite get it done.
BUT. THREE WORDS HAD OTHER IDEAS. VIRTUAL. ASSISTANT. REFEREE.
VAR intervened again, and ruled Aguero offside in the build-up! To which he was. And after some more stress, and a chance or two more, the final whistle blew. WE HAD DONE IT! Tottenham Hostpur had beaten Man City on aggregate on away goals, and were through to the semi finals of the Champions League. Absolute ecstasy.
Now I think it’s time to mention the main talking points. Our injuries aren’t looking good, with Winks and Sissoko now missing, their return is crucial in the semis. And I hope to god they’re back in time for it in two weeks. I also need to mention how impressed I am with this club. After no signings, the money we’ve spent in comparison to City, facing one of the best teams in England, we did fantastic. And finally, the big one. Can we win the Champions League. I honestly don’t know what to say. We face an Ajax team who are in unbelievable form this season, having already beaten Bayern, Real Madrid and Juventus in this years competitions. The first leg is at home, which is massive. And I think we need Winks and or Sissoko back. So I hope they can make good and swift recoveries. But the fact is we are in the semis. And a mere 180 minutes of football away from a Champions League final. And for us, this season’s champions league has always been ‘they can’t do it’. Whether its: ‘they’re not getting out of the group’; ‘they won’t beat Dortmund’; they’re definitely not beating Man City’.. But we did. So why can’t we beat Ajax? Why can’t we get to the final. And if we do get to the final of the Champions League, its just one game. But anyway, we’ll just have to see, and for now, dare to dream.
Anyway, it’s a return to premier league action now, which is our main focus for the next two weeks. Top 4 is still a huge battle and I hope we can get at least 6 points in the next three games. And funnily enough, it’s back to face City on Saturday, are you ready to do it all over again? I am. COYS.
As always thanks for reading.