Champions League: Son joy as Spurs survives Man City thriller

An ecstatic Mauricio Pochettino labels players 'heroes' for reaching the semifinals of the European Cup for just the second time in their history.

Mauricio Pochettino, Fernando Llorente and Son Heung-min celebrate Spurs' progression to the Champions League semifinals.   -  REUTERS

Tottenham star Son Heung-min admitted his side's stunning Champions League quarterfinal success against Manchester City was the craziest match he has ever experienced.

In one of the most dramatic matches in Champions League history, Son scored twice in the space of three minutes early in the first half to give Tottenham a 2-1 lead in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

City hit back to take a 4-2 lead that would have sent it through to the semifinals. But Fernando Llorente bundled in Tottenham's decisive late third goal — awarded after a VAR review.

That was enough for Tottenham, whose 4-3 defeat secured an away goals triumph after it won the first leg 1-0.

Tottenham still needed another VAR assist before it could celebrate a first Champions League semifinal berth as Raheem Sterling's goal in the final seconds was ruled out for offside against Sergio Aguero.

In total there were five goals in the first 21 minutes — the fastest five goals scored in Champions League history.

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A screen shows the VAR decision announcing Raheem Sterling's goal has been disallowed in the closing minutes of the game.   -  AFP

 

It was all too much for South Korea forward Son, whose side will face Dutch club Ajax in the last four.

“I have never seen something like this, It was a very tough game, a very crazy game. But we are very proud of our team-mates. It was madness,” Son said.

“Sometimes you are annoyed with VAR but today it is 'thank you and good decision'. We fought together for 90 minutes. We showed unbelievable character and fight.”

Mauricio Pochettino's men were 12 minutes away from being eliminated in the group stages before a late fightback against PSV Eindhoven. Now they are in their first European semifinal since the 1984 UEFA Cup.

Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen admitted he was relieved after City's late goal was ruled out as he had given the ball away in the build-up.

“I think I must be one of the luckiest guys on the planet today. With the last one they scored, I thought it was over. Thank God the ref gave offside,” Eriksen said.

“The whole game was a roller coaster, it was goals, goals, goals, goals and drama everywhere. It was a fun game to play but I'm lucky we're on the good side.”

Ecstatic Pochettino

It is a personal triumph for Pochettino, who hasn't signed a single player in the last two transfer windows, yet managed to knock out one of the richest clubs in the world.

Saluting his side, who went through without injured striker Harry Kane following his injury in the first leg, Pochettino said: “It was unbelievable — the way it finished. I am so happy, so proud. My players are heroes to be here. I am so happy for them, so happy for the fans.”

 

Admitting he was bewildered by the astonishing finale with Sterling's disallowed goal, Pochettino, who ended the night dancing on the pitch with his jacket off, added: “In a moment many things happened in your head, the disappointment was massive but they changed the decision.

“That is why we love football. Today we showed great character and great personality it was an unbelievable game.”

Unlike Guardiola, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has previously been a critic of VAR, but believes the decisions to award City a penalty in the first leg and not punish Fernandinho for a clash with Harry Kane balanced themselves out over the tie.

“You have to trust the VAR when it is against or for you,” said Pochettino. “The deicision to include VAR in football is going to change the game.”

 

And the Argentine labelled his players as “heroes” for reaching the semifinals of the European Cup for just the second time in their history after a season in which they have not signed a single player and played the majority of the campaign at a temporary home in Wembley.

“On this type of night, this type of victory, only I can feel proud. I feel they are heroes. With all the circumstances to be in the semi-finals of the Champions League they deserve a lot of praise.”

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