City’s quadruple hopes vanquished by VAR; Munster need quick start against Saracens
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Referee Cuneyt Cakir consults VAR as Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola looks on during the Champions League semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
So, just the seven goals, two late VAR calls, a quadruple dream dashed and a first ever Champions League semi-final for Spurs to mull over from last night. Safe to say proceedings at the Etihad Stadium reached new levels of drama in a Champions League season which has already had its fair share. With five goals in the first 21 minutes Spurs were still clinging on until Sergio Aguero found the net with 30 minutes to play and the quadruple dream was rekindled. Fernando Llorente then turned the game on its head once again 13 minutes later with a goal that looked like it may have come off his arm but VAR ruled in Spurs favour. And it did so again in injury time when City’s manic celebrations – including Pep Guardiola’s run down the touchline – were cut short thanks to VAR adjudging Aguero to have been offside for the build-up to Raheem Sterling’s goal. A crazy, bonkers night in Manchester and one which, as Mary Hannigan writes, made it a tricky evening for the channel-hoppers. Afterwards Guardiola rued the cruelty of VAR calls as his hopes of a first European title without Lionel Messi in his team disappeared. In Porto it was an easier affair for Liverpool as Sadio Mane’s early goal set them on their way to a 4-1 victory on the night and a 6-1 win on aggregate to set up a semi-final against Barcelona while Spurs will meet Ajax. Meanwhile, in the ongoing saga of the FAI, it’s understood that a number of members of the board – who are due to step down in July as confirmed by Minister for Sport Shane Ross yesterday – will seek immediate re-election. Given that possibility, Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy confirmed on Wednesday that there will be no impediment to current members being elected to a new FAI board.
Moving on to rugby and this weekend sees the Champions Cup semi-finals take place with Munster meeting Saracens and Leinster taking on Toulouse. In his stats column this morning John O’Sullivan writes that there is a symmetry to the pairings as two-time tournament winners Munster take on Saracens, the English club having also accumulated a brace of outright competition victories while on the Sunday, Leinster and Toulouse, who share eight titles equally, meet at the Aviva Stadium. The worry for Munster is that they have been beaten in six of the seven matches in which they both failed to score the first try and were trailing at half-time. Meanwhile, Seán Cronin is looking to put a season of disappointment on the international stage behind him when he lines out for Leinster this weekend. Speaking to Gerry Thornley yesterday, the hooker said it was disappointing – the Six Nations in particular – but that he is moving on and trying to find some of his best form.