Well, we certainly got our overpriced BT Sport subscription money’s worth last night.
Pep Guardiola’s dreams of an unprecedented quadruple lie in tatters after his Man City side were dumped out of the Champions League quarter-finals on the away goals rule, despite beating Spurs 4-3 on the night.
Instead, it’s the north London side who progress to the semis to face a born-again Ajax. Although the Dutch club’s run has been hugely impressive thus far, Spurs must now surely fancy their chances of making a first-ever Champions League final.
It’s a remarkable feat for club whose entire transfer budget last summer went on faulty fire alarms rather than new players. But they have just one thing and one thing only to thank for the position they now find themselves in: complete and total, unadulterated good fortune…
A rollercoaster of emotions. pic.twitter.com/M41R6f6Wmv
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 17, 2019
Spurs’ new stadium bounce
On the 0.00001% chance you missed the insufferable wall-to-wall coverage, Spurs opened up a brand spanking new £1bn craft brewery earlier this month.
Although just a few weeks of the season remained, the Premier League granted them permission to move into their new home with absolutely no repercussions whatsoever – despite this being in direct contravention of their own rulebook. UEFA soon followed suit, allowing Spurs to switch their home venue for European knockout games.
Pochettino’s men settled into their new surroundings with a win over Crystal Palace, before taking on and beating the Citizens 1-0 – largely helped with a genuinely engaged home support, many of whom held up carrier bags to mark the occasion.
Instagram versus Reality. pic.twitter.com/P8vVe8bZ0w
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) April 9, 2019
That result simply would never have happened at Wembley, the venue Spurs should have been playing the fixture at in the first place.
Sergio Aguero’s penalty miss
The importance of away goals in European competition can never be underestimated, as we saw last night.
So how Pep Guardiola must rue Sergio Aguero’s penalty miss at the Cock End of Spurs’ new home just 13 minutes in to the first leg. More importantly, how lucky must Spurs count themselves that one of the deadliest strikers European football has ever seen – a man who has scored 43 times from the spot, no less – fluffed his lines.
1. VAR review ?
2. Penalty given ?
3. Aguero miss ?
— Bleacher Report Live (@brlive) April 9, 2019
The outdated away goals rule
Seriously, does anyone think that away goals rule is really relevant in modern day football? Originally designed to prevent drawn ties going to play-offs and to encourage attacking play from away sides, the rule just seems completely out of place these days.
When even the Carabao Cup has tweaked it to make it slightly more fair, you know UEFA are persisting with an antiquated system. Countless clubs have come a cropper in the past because of an away goals rule which will surely be done away with soon. Lucky Spurs.
Aymeric Laporte’s horror show
The French centre-back has been a defensive rock this season, making over 40 appearances for Man City thus far as the club fought on all fronts. But an absolute nightmare performance came at the worst possible time for his club, as two uncharacteristic errors gifted to ball to a ruthless Spurs who scored from both chances.
If it was Eliaquim Mangala, we’d at least have understood.
VAR being introduced to the Champions League
Just like Spurs’ £1bn new luxury cheese restaurant, VAR suddenly came into operation for the knockout stages.
Trophyless Mauricio Pochettino must’ve been upset about this – only in January this year did he say state that “nobody is happy” with VAR in Europe and, “What worries me a bit is that there is going to be a situation where football starts to annoy fans.”
We bet he’s not annoyed now. Yes, Aguero’s missed penalty in the first leg came as a result of video technology, but just look how Spurs benefitted just eight days later…
Fernando Llorente’s goal was handball
Forgive us if we’ve misunderstood, but we thought VAR was brought in to show angles the referee couldn’t see, therefore giving him the ability to make an informed decision. So why didn’t that happen at the Etihad?
Football’s invisible overlords in the video booth – presumably operating out of an office at Spurs Lodge – inexplicably opted against showing referee Cüneyt Çakir the damning angle Llorente’s decisive goal hitting his arm:
— Cabbydenny ?? (@cabbydenny) April 18, 2019
Given what we’ve seen given for handball courtesy of VAR recently, the quadruple would surely still be on for City had the referee been show this.
If Sergio Aguero wasn’t so fat…
When Pep took the reins at City, one of his first actions was to ban pizza in response to criticism that Sergio Aguero reported for pre-season looking a little “curvier” than usual. We bet he wishes now he’d banned a few more items while he was at it.
Had the Argentinian been in much sharper shape last night, he’d have been able to get back on side during the build-up to Sterling’s disallowed last-gasp goal. Or at least those stray rolls of blubber wouldn’t have been there to play him offside.
Aguero was offside pic.twitter.com/X5aVura1JC
— bzb (@fr_bzb) April 18, 2019
Oh, and let’s not ignore the fact that if VAR hadn’t been in action, that goal would’ve been given anyway.
So there we have it: the luckiest result in Champions League history. But while this good fortune is mind-bogglingly dumbfounding for now, at least we’ll all be able to look back and laugh about it when Spurs go and Spurs it up against Ajax.