For Spurs this was the rollercoaster night to top them all, their players and coaching staff dragged through every possible emotion before joining their supporters in joyous celebration at the final whistle.
After such a bright start, Pochettino’s side struggled to weather a City storm that culminated with Aguero putting them ahead in the tie, before Llorente’s goal renewed hope once more. They then had to deal with the gut-punch of Sterling’s stoppage time goal only to be hit by a wave of relief and joy at VAR’s final decisive intervention.
This was all done without striker and talisman Harry Kane, but once again Son rose to the responsibility, the classy South Korean typifying their bold approach with his superb movement and those two vital early goals.
Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris – rightly criticised after his mistake gifted Liverpool victory at Anfield recently – also deserves huge praise after his penalty save from Aguero in the first leg and crucial stops from the Argentine and De Bruyne in the return.
This was a Spurs side, it should be remembered, that needed a draw in Barcelona to reach the group stage after damaging defeats away to Inter Milan and draw at PSV Eindhoven.
It is a tribute to the resilience of this squad – and Pochettino’s management of his resources – that they not only achieved that but now stand only two games away from their first Champions League final.
They survived an all-out assault from City to achieve it – how they deserved those celebrations.
City’s quadruple dream ends
City’s fans gave their players a standing ovation after the chance of finally winning the Champions League – and claiming that haul of four trophies – eluded them on this sensational night.
And it was hard to criticise a team who, in this game, were scintillating going forward and were a magnificent sight in full cry for long periods.
City’s downfall was the sloppy defending that let Spurs back in after Sterling’s opener, the normally reliable Laporte diverting Dele Alli’s pass into Son’s path for the equaliser before the Frenchman’s heavy touch led to the Korean’s second.
Guardiola’s players slumped to the turf as the final whistle sounded but they will not be allowed to stay down for long. It’s back to business in the Premier League on Saturday for a start. Their opponents? Spurs.
There will be no genuine consolation for City after a night such as this, but what stood out was the sheer relentless quality of De Bruyne, back to his best after an injury-troubled season, while Sterling continues to go from strength to strength.
Both men will be key to City’s bid to overhaul Liverpool in the Premier League title race before meeting Watford in the FA Cup final, but the disappointment of missing out on the trophy that would confirm the club’s status as a European superpower will remain.
Man of the match – Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola: “It is cruel but it is what it is and we have to accept it.
“I am so proud of the players and the fans. I have never heard noise like that since I have been in Manchester but football is unpredictable.”
“Unfortunately, it was a bad end for us so congratulations to Tottenham and good luck for the semi-finals.
“I support VAR but maybe from one angle Fernando Llorente’s goal is handball, maybe from the referee’s angle it is not.
“Today is tough and tomorrow will be tough too but the day after we will be ready.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino: “It was unbelievable – the way it finished. I am so happy, so proud.
My players are heroes to be here.
“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.”BBCsports