On April 18, Tottenham Hotspur reached the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time, beating out Manchester City with an aggregate score of 4-4. While Manchester City defeated Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 during the second match of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, the team was unable to advance to the semifinals of the tournament due to the away goals rule. Prior to the match, the Spurs scored a single goal in its home game, whereas Man City failed to score any goals in the same match. Among the key plot points, the scoring of four successive goals during the first 11 minutes of the game stunned fans. This explosive energy and talent would be further exemplified as the game progressed.
“Aside from the dramatic nature of the game, I think it was memorable for two main reasons,” said Minyoung Son (11), varsity soccer player. “Firstly, it marked the first time that Tottenham had advanced to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, which is a huge accomplishment for the team. Secondly, it was a huge moment for South Korean fans, who were able to see their fellow Korean Son Heung-min score twice for Tottenham during the game.”
Regarded as one of the most exciting matches of the year, the match was extensively discussed and analyzed in the following days. Sports enthusiasts were quick to pinpoint the frequent plot twists that occurred, which included constant lead changes from both teams, as well as some superb saves made by goalkeepers Hugo Lloris of the Spurs and Ederson Moraes of Man City. But the most dramatic moment of the game came when midfielder Raheem Sterling scored a goal in the last few minutes of the game that would have put Manchester City up five total goals to four. The goal seemed to solidify Man City’s triumph over the Spurs, and jubilated fans began to revel in their victory. This celebration was cut short when the goal was deemed an offside following VAR review, resulting in a hard-fought victory for Tottenham.
“I am not an avid fan of European football, but this game was definitely something special,” said Hyunseo Kim (11), varsity soccer player. “The final decision regarding the offside especially had large implications—it demonstrated how technology has become such a huge part of sports, especially in moments when players move so fast that it is difficult to determine what really happened. If the VAR technology had not been in place during this match, Manchester City would have won and no one would have doubted their victory, which is crazy to imagine.”
While the Hotspur did advance to the next round aided by a lucky decision to use VAR for review, sports critics also credited their success to pure talent and perseverance from the players. Top player Harry Kane did not play following an injury in the first match-up between the two teams, and midfielder Moussa Sissoko was also injured halfway through the game, leaving the team with meager options. Given these circumstances, many sports fans were astonished to watch the weak Hotspur team secure this victory. Manchester City clearly had the upper hand in terms of healthy players and the home stadium advantage, yet Tottenham somehow prevailed with the help of impressive concentration and effort from their players.
“Having these injured players hurt Tottenham’s chances considerably, so the fact that Tottenham won was a huge accomplishment for them,” said Jeffrey McEvoy-Hein, an avid soccer fan. “Sometimes when a team loses their best players, they rally together, and other players step in to pick up the slack instead. Even though Tottenham did end up losing, they ultimately got the job done and advanced, which showed how they were able to bounce back from the injuries.”