To dare is to do
Tottenham Hotspur have enjoyed plenty of memorable European nights but none quite like the 90 plus minutes experienced in Manchester on a crazy, crazy evening.
It is worth remembering that Tottenham were appearing in a UEFA Champions League quarter-final for the first time since their sole appearance eight years previously.
As well as that, Mauricio Pochettino’s side managed to squeeze through to the knockout stages having picked up a paltry two points during their Group B travels.
Taking on this season’s UEFA Champions League top scorers in their own backyard and without star striker Harry Kane, this performance will go down as one of the finest in Tottenham’s history.
Reaching a Champions League semi-final on a budget dwarfed by recent winners underlines the brilliance of Mauricio Pochettino and the job he has done since arriving in North London.
Following this result, Daniel Levy must tie the Argentinean to a long-term contract.
It was heart-stopping at times and there is much tougher tests ahead but Tottenham ‘dared to do’ and were duly rewarded.
Good, bad and ugly
The opening 21 minutes at the City of Manchester Stadium demonstrated the good, the bad and the ugly of Premier League football.
All four goals arrived during a crazy, hi-octane spell but the genesis of each occurred due to a mistake or turnover.
The absence of a discernible defence at either end of the pitch had Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino looking to the heavens for much of the opening half.
The Champions League’s most recent winners Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona were each lauded for their attacking finesse.
Not one of those clubs would have lifted the European Cup during that timeframe without the tactical nous to shut games down or a back four (or five) capable of strangling their opponents’ creativity at the source.
For all the excitement and end to end action generated by City and Spurs’ attacking endeavours, neither will claim a Champions League title until they learn how to kill off opponents in the manner the great AC Milan teams of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s used to.
A tale of two heroes
England captain and Tottenham talisman Harry Kane’s ankle ligament injury looked set to scupper his side’s chances before the quarter-final second leg began.
Not for the first time this season, Son Heung-min stepped up to the mark and filled the void with two finishes of the highest quality.
That’s 20 goals and 10 assists so far this season, underlying the South Korean’s importance to his team.
Son Heung-min’s efforts were surpassed by Raheem Sterling. Generating as many headlines for his stance on racism as his on-field contributions, the England international continues to repay the faith shown in him by his manager.
Kevin De Bruyne remains Pep’s midfield anchor but 24 goals and 16 assists later, Raheem Sterling has emerged as one Guardiola’s most trusted lieutenant in a campaign that could yet deliver four trophies.