It was the “mountain the seemed impossible”. A mountain of our own making, but a mountain just the same. And then we climbed that mountain. And then we fell off the other side of it. But for a brief moment, for just a few minutes, we were on top of the world, standing on top of that mountain, basking in the glory of it all.
Even after Marcos Alonso’s goal was ruled out for handball, in the latest example of that most ridiculous and non-sensical rule, we were able to collect ourselves and go again and find that third goal that briefly had us writing our names into the history books.
And if our finishing hadn’t let us down over the last 35 of these 120 minutes tonight — especially Christian Pulisic missing twice in added-on time at the end of regulation — we would’ve indeed written that new chapter. Alas, it was not meant to be.
If you come at the king, you better not miss.
“We are very disappointed and very proud at the same time. We played a fantastic match and deserved what we had. We scored four goals and had big chances to score even more. We were unlucky, that’s is why we are disappointed.
“[Over] both legs and today, I think we deserved to go through. We were unlucky but there are no regrets. These are the kind of defeats you can take with pride and you can accept as a sportsman.”
We needed a perfect game after the most imperfect first leg last week, and we almost got it. It was probably as perfect as we had any right to reasonably expect. Real Madrid may have taken advantage of a couple mistakes, but that’s to their credit more so than anything. We certainly had our chances to overcome those as well.
“You have to reduce your amount of mistakes and we could not reduce it to an absolute minimum over the two legs. That is why the deficit was so high. Then you come here and play a match like this [and] we have two crucial ball losses that only against very few teams end in a goal. Against Real Madrid, it is possible.”
That said, it was a special performance, the kind of performance that Thomas Tuchel wanted out of the team after last week’s back-to-back defeats to Brentford and Real Madrid, and the kind of special performance we have now produced in back-to-back victories over Southampton and Real Madrid.
“The players lived up to the plan in a very different way that we did against Brentford and in the first leg. This is the huge difference. [...] This was at the full limit today. This is where the credit goes to the players.
“We were very disciplined on the ball and very active and had a lot of investment off the ball. We showed a lot of courage and from there, we showed a lot of quality and this was the right way to do it. This is what we did against Southampton to show a reaction three days ago and it’s what we did today.
“I’m very happy. It’s the way to go forward. We demand a lot from the players and if we have this kind of effort, we are a special team. If not, we can lose against anybody. So the point is made. The demands are high and to demand it in three matches with our schedule is not easy, but they showed a lot of character today and can be very proud. But at the same time, we are disappointed.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Tonight’s win was not enough to get us through to the next round, and that hurts.
We can remember that feeling for next time — or perhaps as soon as Sunday, when we take on Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semifinal.