Manchester City defeated Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 in a wild Champions League quarterfinal second leg that left the sides knotted 4-4 on aggregate with the visitors bound for the semi-finals thanks to their three away goals.
While the mentality of both teams in that contest appeared to be dominated by fear of losing, Wednesday night’s clash at the Etihad was a wide-open affair, as the two squads combined for four goals in the first 11 minutes to set a new Champions League record, reports Efe news.
And yet again, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) loomed large in determining the outcome, upholding a Spurs goal and disallowing a City marker that would have seen the hosts go through to the semis.
The opening 20 minutes featured a display of what Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp likes to call “heavy metal football,” with frantic end-to-end action.
City, needing to score, levelled the tie in the 4th minute thanks to Raheem Sterling, who exploited the inattention of Spurs defender Kieran Trippier to deliver a perfect strike.
Three minutes later, City back-liner Aymeric Laporte failed to cut off a Dele Alli pass and set up an easy goal for Son Heung-min.
The South Korean star got a second goal in the 10th minute, again as the result of a lapse by Laporte.
Now behind 3-1 on aggregate, City needed just seconds to claw back a goal, as Danny Rose left Bernardo Silva unmarked and the Portuguese international scored off a deflection.
The goal lifted City and a seemingly innocuous free kick led to a second goal for Sterling, who tapped in a Kevin de Bruyne cross in the 21st minute to level the overall score at 3-3.
The home side pulled ahead in the 59th minute with a goal by Sergio “Kun” Agüero, who took a pass from De Bruyne and smashed the ball past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.
City led 4-3 and needed only to keep a clean sheet for the final 30 minutes to claim a berth in the semi-finals.
But in the 73rd minute, Fernando Llorente, who came into the match as a substitute for the injured Moussa Sissoko, managed to knock a Trippier cross into the City net.
City claimed handball and the referee took an extended look at the VAR replay before concluding there were no grounds to disallow the goal.
But with 17 minutes left in regulation plus stoppage-time to come, City could feel confident of getting another goal.
Three minutes into stoppage time, the goal came on a strike by Sterling and the Etihad erupted, only to fall silent moments later when the goal was disallowed after VAR detected that Agüero was offside.