- Spurs advance after seven-goal thriller at Manchester City
- Liverpool prevail in Porto
- Tottenham-Ajax and Liverpool-Barcelona are semi-final ties
In an instant classic featuring multiple twists and turns, Tottenham Hotspur left the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night with a spot in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals thanks to three massive away goals, leaving Manchester City wondering what may have been. Though City won the match 4-3, Spurs advanced on the away goals rule with a 4-4 aggregate score.
Without Harry Kane, it looked as if Spurs might be in for a long evening when City opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Raheem Sterling was at the end of a dazzling team move, assisted by Kevin De Bruyne to tie the series on aggregate.
But then Son Heungmin's star-making season reached new heights. The Korea Republic forward collected his brace in a flash, netting in the 7th and 10th minutes to give the visitors a commanding lead in the tie. Manchester City would have to score at least four goals to advance.
City were up for the challenge. Bernardo Silva scored off a deflection a minute after Son's second, then Sterling added another ten minutes later to seize back the lead in the match at 3-2. It looked like a familiar hero might emerge when Sergio Aguero fired home in the 59th minute to give the hosts their first lead on aggregate, 4-3.
But substitute forward Fernando Llorente bagged the decider for Tottenham in the 73rd minute, using his hip to deflect in a corner kick. There would be one final twist of the knife for City, when Sterling appeared to complete his hat-trick during second-half stoppage time, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. But Aguero was ruled offside in the buildup to the goal, assuring that Spurs would move on to face Ajax with a spot in the final on the line.
Liverpool's lethal trio too much for Porto
Liverpool's big three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino all found the back of the net at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday, propelling the Reds into the Champions League semi-finals with a 4-1 win over Porto. The Premier League side advanced 6-1 on aggregate.
Mane struck first in the 26th minute, squirting behind Porto's defence in a crowded penalty area to provide a sliding finish past Iker Casillas. Scoring the opener gave the visitors a commanding 3-0 advantage overall, having blanked Porto 2-0 at Anfield a week earlier.
Salah was the beneficiary of a tantalising ball played through by Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 65th minute, and the Egyptian forward beat Casillas one-on-one to score Liverpool's second of the day. It was the end product of a devastating Reds counter-attack.
Though Eder Militao's thumping header brought back a modicum of belief for Porto in the 68th minute, that dissipated when Firmino joined the party nine minutes later. Virgil Van Dijk's 84th-minute header off James Milner's corner kick service was the exclamation point, setting up a semi-final clash with Barcelona.
First legs of the semi-finals will be played on Tuesday 30 April and Wednesday 1 May, and the second legs will take place the following week.
Did you know?
- Five goals combined in the first 21 minutes for Manchester City and Tottenham set a Champions League record, eclipsing a match between Borussia Dortmund and Legia Warsaw in 2016 that saw five goals in the opening 24 minutes (it finished 8-4 for Dortmund).
- Tottenham return to the competition's semi-finals for the first time in 57 years, setting a record for the longest absence from that stage. It was previously held by Atletico Madrid (40 years – 1974-2014).
- Son Heungmin (12) surpassed Uzbekistan's Maxim Shatskikh (10) as the top Asian goalscorer in Champions League history.
- Sadio Mane (10) became the third African player to reach double figures in goals in the Champions League knockout stage, joining Didier Drogba (14) and Samuel Eto'o (10).