Mauricio Pochettino used to be ridiculed for saying he concentrated on winning the Premier League or the Champions League instead of the FA Cup or League Cup.
Well, at 10 o'clock Wednesday, he was running around the field like a fan, jumping arm in arm with Kieran Trippier, clenching his fists and swinging his arms at the far end in joyous demonstration. The Spurs are in a semi-final of the Champions League and a semi-final win.
This was undoubtedly the greatest moment of the Pochettino era so far. No, despite all their good work, they still do not have a trophy, as they are often remembered. And their biggest games, semifinals and cup finals, have always produced disappointing results. They lost the FA Cup semi-final to Chelsea and Manchester United, who should be well within their reach.
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But now they have beaten Pep Guardiola's Manchester City by two hands, finishing any chance of a four-fold and preparing for the biggest game of their lives. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will host a semi-final of the Champions League in the next two weeks, which is not a bad start as it only opened its doors 14 days ago. Pochettino has often spoken about how the team is progressing faster than the club, and here he gave a moment that no one in the Spurs planned.
Who knows if the Spurs will raise the famous trophy in Madrid on June 1, but the fact that this is a possibility shows how much they are achieving. And that season, when they did not buy anybody, they rushed to the ground and did not play their first home game until early April. They even thought they were out of the Champions League in November, after three poor results, and had a remarkable turnaround just to reach the round of 16. The Spurs finished second and third places in the Premier League under the command of Pochettino, and this campaign can now be seen as as difficult, as improbable and as impressive as this.
The performance itself? Spurs certainly played better than that. They were bred in a 4-4-2 diamond designed to take advantage of City's bugs, and it worked. The two instinctive shots of Heung Min Son at the beginning define the path of the Spurs. Without those goals, City would certainly have crossed the Spurs, but both played with City's mind.
Of course with Victor Wanyama in the midfield stuck, the Spurs had to take advantage of luck, and there were moments early in the second half when City was on top of them. And it looked like they would continue to score until they won 5-2 or 6-2 in the evening. There were moments there, like Hugo Lloris's, save from Kevin De Bruyne, whose importance only became apparent in time.
Because the Spurs made it harder and more important here, when it seemed like everything was against them. They stayed in the game. They made sure they would not be surprised. So all they needed was a leap of luck for them to score a third mortal. And with Fernando Llorente on the field you always have a chance. He tested Ederson with a header even before his goal, so whatever the controversy over how he scored, City can not say they were not warned.
And although City feel they should have won more tonight, the Spurs could also say the same about the first leg. The city took much more advantage of the ball on both legs, but each side ended up with four goals and, crucially, the Spurs made fewer mistakes. It was City who missed the penalty last week, City, who took two away goals in three minutes last night, City, which took the game away from them well in the end.
So for the Spurs to overtake the City is an achievement, even more because of the injuries they faced. The Spurs did not have Harry Winks or Eric Dier in the midfield last night, forcing them to start Wanyama, before losing Moussa Sissoko to a personal injury. They had to go through the second leg without Harry Kane, who injured his ankle again in the first game. So that was not even Spurs peak, but a tired, run-down, patched Spurs together, who drew this amazing combination of results.
There's a theory in Spurs that, sometimes without Kane, they get surprisingly good results because everyone throws off their skin to prove a point. That was the case of their last injury when a series of last-gasp victories kept them on the Premier League hunt. But nothing was as surprising or as spectacular as this, the greatest result in the modern history of the Spurs, the biggest defeat by 4 to 3 of all time, since a Kurs-less Spurs did enough to prevent an uncontrollable force. And to mark a date with its own history.