Bernardo Silva put on a brave face and tried to switch focus back to the title race following Manchester City’s Champions League heartache.
City saw their hopes of conquering Europe and winning an unprecedented quadruple this season end in a dramatic quarter-final clash against Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
City thought they had snatched a 5-3 victory, which would have taken them through 5-4 on aggregate, through Raheem Sterling in injury time but his strike was ruled out by VAR.
Instead Spurs went through to a last-four clash with Ajax, despite a 4-3 loss on the night, courtesy of the away goals rule in a 4-4 aggregate draw.
“We are very disappointed,” said Silva, one of City’s scorers in a sensational game that opened with five goals inside a pulsating first 21 minutes.
“Obviously we wanted to qualify for the semi-finals. We’re disappointed with the result and the way we conceded the goals but I think the way the team played was very good. It was fantastic, especially after (being) 2-1 behind.
“It’s not a very good feeling to have but that’s football. Now we have to focus on the Premier League and FA Cup. We will have to forget about it and go for the competitions we are still in.”
City, beaten 1-0 in the first leg, levelled the tie when Sterling struck after four minutes but Spurs roared back with Son Heung-min scoring twice in quick succession. Silva then equalised and Sterling put City back in front in a frantic opening.
Sergio Aguero put City in command of the tie after the break but Fernando Llorente swung it back in Spurs’ favour when bundled in another goal from a corner after 73 minutes.
There was debate over whether the ball had hit Llorente’s arm before bouncing in off his hip but the Spaniard was given the benefit of the doubt after a lengthy VAR check.
VAR then came to Spurs’ rescue again in injury time after Sterling thought he had completed his hat-trick in the most dramatic fashion, ruling Aguero offside in the build-up.
Silva said: “I think VAR is a good thing because it helps the referee make better decisions, so no problems with the VAR.
“Obviously I have had the opportunity to watch the last goal from Tottenham and the ball hits the hand, no doubt about that, but the referee takes his decision and we have to respect that.”
This could still be a memorable season for City. They have already won the Carabao Cup and are through to the FA Cup final.
They will retain their Premier League title if they win their remaining five games, starting with another visit from Spurs on Saturday.
Silva said: “It’s not time for revenge, it’s time for another competition, time to keep us alive in the title race.
“We will try to win the game in the same way we did on Wednesday but knowing that we are playing against a very good team and that will make it difficult for us.”
Jurgen Klopp declared Liverpool have made a “big statement” by reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League for the second year in a row.
Three goals in the final half an hour saw Liverpool triumph 4-1 in Porto to seal a 6-1 aggregate win in their quarter-final and set up a last-four meeting with Barcelona.
“For us to be in the semi-finals is unbelievable really, the second time in a row in the semi-finals is something really crazy,” Klopp said.
Barcelona and Lionel Messi now await, and Klopp could not hide his grin as he looked forward to pitting his wits against the Catalan giants – even if he must first focus on Sunday’s Premier League game against Cardiff as Liverpool continue to push on two fronts.
“Now we are in the semi-final against Barcelona, I’m really happy that we play them,” he said.
“We will find things that we think we can use against them, but I’m not worrying about that tonight.
“Tonight we are in the semi-final but on Sunday we are playing Cardiff. That’s in my mind and will be on my mind 100 per cent when I wake up.
“I’m looking forward to it but not tonight. The news that there’s a proper football game between Liverpool and Barcelona is really good news and I’m happy for all the people in the football club.
“To be in the semi-final is a big statement. I’m really proud of the boys and what they did.”
Porto played on the front foot for most of the night but struggled to turn chances into goals, and the tie was effectively over when Sadio Mane prodded home Liverpool’s first chance of the night in the 28th minute.
Mohamed Salah doubled the lead in the 65th minute and though Eder Militao headed in for the hosts, further goals from Roberto Firminho and Virgil Van Dijk made for a comfortable Liverpool win.
“We had to defend in the first half a lot, but OK, that’s no problem, that’s something that we have to do,” Klopp said.
“The big difference is that it doesn’t cost us confidence. We are under pressure but no problem because we know we will get chances and when we did we scored them.”
Klopp admitted the final scoreline flattered his team, even if they rarely looked like having a problem on the night.
“It’s not a result that reflects the two games,” he said. “At Anfield we were the clear better side, we dominated the game and played a really good game and made life difficult for Porto.
“Tonight it was the other way around, they made our life difficult.”
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Mauricio Pochettino says his side are capable of winning the Champions League after they booked a semi-final spot for the first time in their history with a dramatic away goals victory at Manchester City.
Spurs lost an amazing quarter-final second leg 4-3 on the night, but ended City’s quadruple dream courtesy of Fernando Llorente’s 73rd-minute goal which made it 4-4 on aggregate.
That does not begin to tell even half of the story on a dramatic night at the Etihad Stadium – one which began with five goals inside the opening 21 minutes, creating Champions League history and ended with a double helping of VAR action as Spurs somehow made it through.
After referee Cuneyt Cakir allowed Llorente’s goal to stand following a lengthy video review, where the ball appeared to brush his arm before hitting his hip and going in, the real theatre came in stoppage time as City thought they had won it when Raheem Sterling fired home from close range to spark scenes reminiscent of that magical Sergio Aguero moment of 2012.
But another VAR check ruled Aguero offside and all of a sudden the Etihad felt silent as Spurs’ players, who were previously crestfallen on the floor, were now punching the air as they made history.
Ajax, who have dumped Real Madrid and Juventus out in the last two rounds, await in the semi-final giving Spurs an undeniable shot at reaching the final.
“I think today we show and last week against Manchester City that all is possible in football,” said Pochettino, whose reputation will only be further enhanced after this win.
“That is the most important thing. Sport always gives you the possibility to beat teams that no one believes or thinks we are capable of. Why?
“football is not only about talent but belief and to have the right mentality. This team has the personality, character and mentality to believe all is possible.
“With the quality, we can have this type of performance and achieve these big things. If not, it’s impossible.
“With only quality, it’s possible to achieve a semi-final in the Champions League.”
After Son Heung-min’s double either side of Sterling and Bernado Silva goals inside the opening 11 minutes, there was a sense that this was going to be a memorable night.
And after Sterling’s second and Aguero’s effort City were ahead in the tie for the first time midway through the second half and were heading through until the late drama.
Pochettino, whose side had one point at the halfway stage of the group stage of the competition, called his side “heroes”.
“The most important now is we are in the semi-final and we deserve to be in the semi-final,” Pochettino added.
“My players are heroes. I told you before the game, whatever happens, I am going to feel proud.
“To qualify for the semi-final and making history I am more than happy I am more than proud for them.
“It is unbelievable to be in Champions League in the quarter-final and beat Man City because in both legs it was very competitive and both legs were even.
“To score three goals here was not easy. In a game that is like a final, it is difficult to see Manchester City concede the goals they conceded today.
“One of the most important times in my career like a manager, of course, one of the best. To be in the semi-final was a dream before and now we are there.”
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