For a moment, the Etihad Stadium erupted as Raheem Sterling
appeared to have landed the knockout blow to Tottenham's Champions League
Manchester City's unprecedented quadruple hopes had burst back into life in the most extraordinary fashion. Football had thrown up another classic moment.
After slotting home from a Sergio Aguero
pass in injury-time (two minutes, 22 seconds in), Sterling went wild, sprinting to the corner flag as Pep Guardiola
jumped in the air with unbridled joy, celebrating with the jubilant City fans.
One of THE most remarkable phases of play the Champions League has seen...? Sterling scores late winner? The Etihad erupts? Goes to a VAR check? Disallowed for offsideJust about every emotion in 120 seconds ?? pic.twitter.com/j6CTZByTXQ
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 17, 2019
For Tottenham - heartbreak. Dele Alli sank to the floor, Hugo Lloris watched on with despair and manager Mauricio Pochettino looked to the sky in utter disbelief. Their chances of reaching their first Champions League semi-final were gone. Their dreams were shattered.
Absolute elation in the home end. City's social media team couldn't even believe their own eyes, tweeting a series of random letters as they let out their relief.
City's attentions quickly turned back to regrouping and seeing out the final few minutes of what has been an enthralling clash. But the drama was just about beginning.
As Guardiola walked back to the City dugout, the referee (3 minutes, 23 seconds into added time) checked with VAR just to confirm the winning goal should stand.
VAR was brought in to cut out any drama, but the exact opposite happened here - hope for Tottenham and Pochettino. And it soon became clear that Aguero was offside in the build-up after Bernardo Silva touched the ball on following a Christian Eriksen pass.
A moment of panic and nail-biting at the Etihad as they awaited the referee's tie-deciding call. The TV cameras cut to Cuneyt Cakir, who puts his hand to his ears as he gets the VAR signal. The decision seems to be taking forever but he eventually disallows the goal.
This time it's Guardiola's turn to sink to his knees in disbelief. He can't believe it. City's moment of magic is taken away from them. And Tottenham are moments away from their first Champions League semi-final.
Minutes later, the referee blows his final whistle and Pochettino throws his hand into the air as the Tottenham squad and fans go wild.
For City, whose biggest dream is winning the Champions League and dominating European football, thoughts must immediately return to the Premier League if they are to pip Liverpool to the title.
Guardiola has experienced the highest highs in football and this was a very rare low for the Spaniard in what has been such a stellar managerial career. And he let his emotions out after the game.
'It was cruel. This moment when it's not a legal goal, OK,' Guardiola said following the full-time whistle.
'But in the moment we celebrate in three seconds, one minute, when there's one or two minutes left we are so close to the semi-finals and after we don't concede so it's very cruel. But it is what it is.'
Reality had set in and after their moment of madness, City's social media team posted on Twitter: 'We gave it everything'.
Pochettino had just experienced his best moment in football as a manager and that was evident in his post-match interview.
The Argentine said: 'It was unbelievable - the way it finished. I am so happy, so proud. My players are heroes to be here. I am so happy for them, so happy for the fans.
'In a moment many things happened in your head. The disappointment was massive but they changed the decision. That is why we love football.
'Today we showed great character and great personality it was an unbelievable game.'
For a moment, Eriksen thought he had lost the tie for Tottenham. The Danish midfielder, who has been key in everything his side have done so far this season, breathed a huge sigh of relief after giving the ball away leading up to the disallowed goal.
'I must be one of the luckiest guys on the planet tonight. I thought it was all over but It was a fun game. It was a rollercoaster. We gave them a lot but also got a lot - it was a weird game.
'After today we take a deep breath, it will be a fairytale to play them and fun to be back in the (Amsterdam) Arena again.'
The last laugh went to Tottenham. Fernando Llorente slotted home the winner in the 72nd minute. Again, VAR worked in their favour.
The Spanish striker turned the ball home from an in-swinging Kieran Trippier corner and ran to the jubilant travelling support behind the goal.
But there was a brief scare for Spurs as the referee consulted VAR and went over to the small screen near the tunnel to check if Llorente had handled the ball.
After replay after replay, the tension was building but Cakir signalled a goal. Tottenham fans were loving VAR on an enthralling night of action, which served up the quickest five goals in Champions League history.
How did the Tottenham fans celebrate?
'VAR, VAR my lord' they chanted well into the night.