Raheem Sterling was denied by VAR in injury-time as Manchester City's quadruple hopes came to an end in the most dramatic of circumstances against Tottenham Hotspur in a classic Champions League quarterfinal tie.
The England international thought he had a hat-trick at the death at the Etihad Stadium, but a review showed Sergio Aguero was offside in the build-up as Tottenham was beaten 4-3 on the night and progressed 4-4 via the away goals rule.
Spurs had already been assisted by VAR when Fernando Llorente bundled in from close range 17 minutes from time, which ultimately booked a semifinal date with Ajax.
A chaotic first half had City 3-2 up at the break, as Sterling wiped out Son Heung-min's brace then scored the hosts' third following a fortunate Bernardo Silva equaliser.
Aguero's brilliant strike had seemingly put City into the semis before VAR deemed Llorente's apparent handball to be accidental and Pep Guardiola's men saw wild celebrations for Sterling's last-gasp effort curtailed in sensational scenes.
A rip-roaring start astonishingly produced four goals in the first 11 minutes, with City initially overturning Spurs' first-leg lead through Sterling's gorgeous curling finish just inside the area.
But Spurs soon had the lead on the day – Son's effort from the edge of the box inexplicably finding its way past Ederson after an Aymeric Laporte error to level, before the Spurs star had another with a fierce strike into the top-right corner following another mistake from City's French centre-back.
Despite those lapses, City was in an obstinate mood and equalised barely a minute later when Silva's close-range effort deflected in off Danny Rose. An incisive move in the 21st minute put City ahead on the night, as Sterling met Kevin De Bruyne's exquisite low cross and converted at the back post.
Aguero seemed to have ended Spurs' resistance in the 59th minute when latching on to a De Bruyne pass and finishing emphatically inside the near post. But it was not enough, as Kieran Trippier's corner struck Llorente, the ball appearing to hit his elbow and thigh on its way in.
Sterling thought he had sent City through in the final seconds of stoppage-time, finishing from the middle of the box, but VAR spotted Aguero straying offside to bring a swift end to the jubilant scenes, securing Spurs' passage after a remarkable encounter.
Key Opta Facts:
- Tottenham has reached the semi-finals of the Champions League/European Cup for the second time in its history, also doing so in 1961-62 under Bill Nicholson.
- Spurs is the seventh English side to reach the Champions League semifinals (also Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Leeds) – England is now the nation with the most unique semifinalists (overtaking Spain).
- Five goals were scored in the opening 21 minutes of this game – it is the shortest amount of time it has ever taken for five goals to be scored in a Champions League match.
- No side has been knocked out at the Champions League quarterfinal stage by English teams on more occasions than Manchester City (twice; also in 2017-18 vs Liverpool).
- Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in 26 goals (19 goals and seven assists) in 20 games in all competitions at the Etihad this season, more than any team-mate.
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