Mauricio Pochettino has revealed he did not know how he was going to be able to address his Tottenham players when it looked like they were heading out of the Champions League.
Spurs thought their European adventure was over when Raheem Sterling scored deep into injury time of their dramatic quarter-final second leg at the Etihad Stadium, only for the Video Assistant Referee to hand them a reprieve.
Sterling netted to send City 5-4 ahead on aggregate, but VAR showed that Sergio Aguero was offside.
The turnaround in emotions was an unbelievable sight as Tottenham players that were on the floor crestfallen were suddenly punching the air, while City, who celebrated as wildly as they did when Aguero won them the Premier League in 2012, were in despair.
But during the minute or so that Spurs were going out, Pochettino said he plummeted to new depths, questioning Christian Eriksen’s decision not to play the ball forward in the build-up to the goal and wondering what he could say to his players.
“It was a moment where I threw my jacket, threw my jumper and I went to sit next to Jesus (Perez) and Miguel (D’Agostino) and Toni (Jimenez),” he said.
“It was a few seconds like this (hands on head). It was so fast. There were a lot of bad feelings and bad ideas.
“In that moment, yes of course, it was the lowest moment of my career. Yes. Massive. It was going to be a massive situation emotionally. We for sure would have been very down.
“In that moment you start to think, ‘Why?’. The action where Christian played back. I was thinking, ‘Why not play forwards?’.
“I was reviewing the action, the decision, how I was going to face the players, the fans, you … all these things happened so quickly in my mind.
“It’s amazing. When you are so down and then something you do not expect happens. It’s amazing how quick things happen in your mind, different emotions and ideas.”
Spurs’ celebrations at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday were fitting with creating history, having reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time, as raucous partying on the pitch was followed by even more jubilant scenes in the dressing room.
Video footage has emerged on social media of Pochettino in the thick of the action after the game, not that he is happy it has come out.
“I hope that no-one put a video on social media. Because I saw a video that someone recorded celebrating in the dressing room,” he said.
“I hope this is not on social media. I hope that this is private.
“We were very happy, we celebrated. It was normal. It was a fantastic moment and we were all together, massive happiness sharing all together.
“It was a big achievement. We realised there in the dressing room that it was a fantastic achievement for us, for the club. And we were so happy.”
Tottenham’s impressive progression under Pochettino has always been tempered by their inability so far to back it up with trophies, despite a string of final and semi-final appearances.
The last four of the Champions League is new territory for the club, though they matched the run in the European Cup in the early 1960s, but Pochettino does not see it as a landmark moment.
“I don’t believe that,” he said. “It was amazing to achieve that, but there is still a lot of work to do for the club if we want to be in the level that we dream to be at.
“But of course in the way that we are it is the way to build your reputation, you build towards being one day at the level that you want.
“And of course now I am so happy but you can put it in the same emotional level if you win the Champions League or you win the Premier League. We are going to be in the semi-final.
“It was fantastic to make history, to arrive for the first time since 1962 in the semi-final again, in a different era of course now.”
Tottenham dashed Manchester City’s quadruple dream on a dramatic Champions League night at the Etihad Stadium.
Raheem Sterling thought he settled a pulsating quarter-final contest with a late strike on Wednesday only for Sergio Aguero to be ruled offside following a review in a dramatic finale.
There was also controversy over what proved the decisive Spurs goal in a tie that ended 4-4 on aggregate, with Fernando Llorente’s bundled effort only given after a lengthy VAR review for suspected handball.
City did win the second leg 4-3 but it was Spurs that prevailed on the away goals rule. They will now face Ajax in the semi-finals.
Take a look at seven deadly stats from the game.
THEY SHOOT, THEY SCORE
Nobody could believe the way this game started. By the fourth minute, City had scored, changing the complexion of the tie as it looked like Spurs would be in for a long night, Sterling’s superb first making it 1-0 with almost the entire game left for the home side to find the winning second goal.
Instead, that goal went to Spurs – as did the third, as Son Heung-min pounced on two City errors to put Tottenham ahead 2-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate. It looked like, after an early setback, Maurico Pochettino’s side had wrested control of the tie back from their opponents. But Bernardo Silva had other ideas, ghosting in to score City’s second and put the tie on a knife’s edge again, and it would seesaw back and forth for the rest of the night.
When Silva scored, it was the fourth shot on target of the game. All four had ended up in the net.
First 4 shots in Man City v Tottenham:— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 17, 2019
4' GOAL ⚽ Man City
7' GOAL ⚽ Spurs
10' GOAL ⚽ Spurs
11' GOAL ⚽ Man City
The earliest there have ever been 4 goals in a CL fixture
The defenders may have failed to turn up for their jobs for the start of this game, but nobody quite cared – this was a frenzy that made Champions League history.
When the fourth goal went in on the 11th minute, it was the earliest four goals had been scored in a Champions League game in the competition’s history. But that wasn’t enough for City and Spurs – the latter probably would have been fine had it stayed that way – as a fifth goal came just ten minutes later, with Sterling giving City a 3-2 lead and levelling the aggregate score.
That goal made this the first Champions League game in which five goals had been scored in the first 21 minutes.
Man City vs. Spurs is the first game in Champions League history to see five goals scored in the first 21 minutes of a game:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 17, 2019
04' ⚽️ Raheem Sterling
07' ⚽️ Son Heung-min
10' ⚽️ Son Heung-min
11' ⚽️ Bernardo Silva
21' ⚽️ Raheem Sterling
Absolutely bonkers. 🤪 pic.twitter.com/JnqZJ8SdOn
WAY BACK WEDNESDAY
It was almost a surprise that that the first half ended at 3-2, after what had transpired in the first 21 minutes. No one would have expected the remainder of the half to go goalless after that.
At the time, the half-time score may have seemed like a good omen for City. The last time a Champions League match in England went into the break at 3-2, it was Chelsea leading Barcelona in the second leg of a round of 16 tie in 2005. Chelsea were still heading out on away goals as things stood, but they got a fourth goal in the second half to overturn the 2-1 deficit they’d brought back from Barcelona.
City, too, would get a fourth goal to overturn a one-goal deficit from the away leg. If only the scoring had stopped there.
5 - @ManCity v @SpursOfficial tonight is the first Champions League match taking place in England to see five goals scored before half-time since March 2005, when Chelsea led Barcelona 3-2 at the break at Stamford Bridge. Breathless. #MCITOT pic.twitter.com/t7aTThIquH— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 17, 2019
LAPORTE’S NIGHTMARE SHOW
Aymeric Laporte was comfortably leading the race to be considered the best of the rest in the list of Premier League defenders behind Virgil van Dijk. Indeed, according to some observers he’s on par with the Liverpool star, and those of a City persuasion may even argue he’s better.
They’ll have a tougher time after Wednesday, when the Frenchman committed two errors in the first ten minutes to throw away the advantage Sterling had given his team. Two poor touches gave Spurs the ball in the City half, and both times it ended up in the back of the City net.
Going into this game, Laporte had made one error leading to a goal in 44 appearances across competitions this season.
Aymeric Laporte is the first player to make two defensive errors leading to a goal in a single Champions League game this season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 17, 2019
What a ridiculous match. 😳 pic.twitter.com/vCbc8IA3v1
THE SON-MAN SHOW
Pep Guardiola once called Tottenham “the Harry Kane team”. The Englishman was missing through injury on Wednesday, and given the collective efforts of Spurs no one would call them a one-man team anyway, but if there’s a player in their side who could take up that mantle, it’s Son.
The man who gave Spurs the win in the first leg briefly turned the second leg on its head with his quick-fire brace in response to Sterling’s opening goal. He was aided by some shambolic defending, but even then the finish for his second matched Sterling’s brilliant first, and at that point, 10 minutes in, Tottenham had a 2-1 lead on the night and 3-1 on aggregate.
He’d singlehandedly scored as many goals in ten minutes as all of City’s opponents had managed combined in the previous ten games at the Etihad Stadium.
Goals conceded at the Etihad in the last 10 games: 2— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 17, 2019
Goals conceded in the first 10 minutes to Son Heung-min: 2
Somehow, Man City are *still* winning. pic.twitter.com/c3g3RKTI56
DE BRUYNE MAJESTIC
At one point, when Aguero scored City’s fourth goal on the night in the 59th minute, Kevin de Bruyne was averaging an assist every 19 minutes in this game. It was a virtuoso performance from a player who was dropped for the first leg because Guardiola wasn’t sure the Belgian could deal with Spurs’ physicality.
He became the first player to bag a hat-trick assists in a Champions League quarter-final in over a decade, since Ryan Giggs managed four for Manchester United against Roma in 2007. And all this after a season in which he’s been injured and some way short of top form – until last weekend he’d gone 335 days without a Premier League assist.
Kevin De Bruyne has now assisted 5️⃣ of Man City's last 7️⃣ goals, having assisted just 3️⃣ of their previous 1️⃣4️⃣6️⃣ this season pic.twitter.com/mdoEGAtsZK— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 17, 2019
NOT A GREAT DAY FOR THE DEFENCE
Toby Alderweireld ducking out of the way of Sterling’s shot for his first goal – though in fairness it would have taken his face off – Laporte’s errors, Ederson letting the ball slip under him for Son’s first, Spurs failing to pick up Silva, Hugo Lloris being beaten at his near post by Aguero; it wasn’t a great day for either defence or goalkeeper.
Spurs conceded three goals in a half for the first time since 2015 – and that was in Manchester as well, though on the other side of the city during an away game against United.
But it’s what they did at the other end that mattered. City had conceded three goals at home in the entirety of 2019 going into this game; Spurs matched that tally on their own on Wednesday.
Goals scored by all 12 opposition teams at the Etihad in 2019 before tonight: 3— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 17, 2019
Goals scored by Spurs at the Etihad tonight: 3
An incredible achievement. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/TEAx336fta
Wow, what a game. Manchester City prevailed 4-3 on the night but the aggregate 4-4 draw sent Tottenham through to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time as City’s misery in Europe continued.
Raheem Sterling was a menace after opening the scoring, but it was 2-2 after 10 minutes as this encounter snap, crackled and popped from the off.
Fernando Llorente’s late goal proved decisive as did a late VAR decision that denied Sterling his hat-trick.
Here, we rate the City players:
Ederson: Should have done better for Son’s first goal and was helpless to Spurs’ decisive third. 6
Kyle Walker: Had a tough time against a rampant Son in the first half but regained his composure. 6
Vincent Kompany: The pick of City’s defenders, exuding calm authority amid plenty of chaos. 7
Aymeric Laporte: Made mistakes in the build up to both of Spurs’ early goals. 5
Benjamin Mendy: More restrained than usual but made some good runs. 6
Ilkay Gundogan: Pushed City forward but did not offer much protection defensively. 6
David Silva: Out of form in recent weeks and again struggled to make a telling impact. 6
Kevin De Bruyne: Controlled large spells of the game with his dynamic runs and inch-perfect through balls. 9
Bernardo Silva: A typically energetic and hard-working performance from the tricky playmaker, who had Danny Rose on toast. 7
Raheem Sterling: Maintained his recent form with two more goals in another excellent all-round display and was cruelly denied what would have been a dramatic winner. 8
Sergio Aguero: City’s cutting edge who put them ahead in the second half with a thunderbolt of a shot. 7
Fernandinho (for D. Silva 63): Great tackle and contributed in attack as City went all out for the winning goal, sat centrally and dictated play. 6
Leroy Sane (for Mendy 84): A case of too late, too late from Guardiola as he had little time to threaten in a breathless finale. N/A