After a long break, trying to stay up for a late champions league match seemed more stressful than it used to be, but was worth it when I woke up ten min into the first half. I’d missed the pre match buildup, the formation and the injury lists. But it took me only 5 min to realize which team was calling the shots. Harry did not come up with a full strength team, and by ‘full strength’ I mean a team without BALE and Modric [bench], however a fit Van der Waart was always a key.
Spurs were beyond doubt calling the shots for the first 30min, making the home team look old and slow. Industrious quick passing, long balls targeting the infallible Peter Crouch, and VdV dictating most of the play in the absence of Modric, Milan were a shadow of what was expected of them. They lacked desire, the lanky Ibra straying offside once too often, the veteran midfielders were given no space or time on the ball by some clinical interceptions by the Palacios – Sandro – Pienaar triumvirate. More than two-thirds of Spurs attack was left winged through the Pienaar – Ekotto – Vdv – Crouch quartet which was surely a tactical approach, however every move which saw Lennon one on one with the Milan full back, resulted in a delivery to the box.
The remaining 15 min of the first half saw some scrappy passage of play with Milan able to contain the flow, and Spurs losing some of the rhythm and momentum going forward, however the defensive back four and Gomez were hardly tested, and Harry would have been very satisfied with the team’s performance.
The Milan captain Gattuso was cutting a frustrated figure as he was literally swatted away in any aerial challenge against the 6’7’’ English forward.
The Milan coach was no doubt the one who had to do all the halftime work, and a positive move with injection of pace and strike came through Pato in place of an ineffective Seedorf. Spurs looked to start the second half just like the first, with a clever half turn chip over the keeper by VdV just going past the top corner. Ten minutes later a blatant red card offence – a two footed driving tackle from Flamini took Corluka out of the game, however both were lucky, former to still be on the pitch and latter to not have broken a leg. The reluctance of the referee to not book the home player for an offence as clear as ever, is beyond me. But we have grown to become so accustomed to the fallacies of the UEFA, it was no surprise to see such an incorrect decision being made. A fiery Gattuso over the Corluka incident, shoved Spurs first team coach, Joe Jordan on the face [reminded me of CR7 recently pushing Pep for not giving the ball to him] and Jordan stood his ground.
The injury to Corluka added more spice to the game with Pienaar‘s retribution by tripping Thiago immediately, but not even one percent cynical. A lot more unnecessary tangles continued between Crouch and Gattuso and for all the latter’s frustration he got yellow carded for a clean tackle which saw him writhing on the carpet like a boy who has just been denied something he so badly wanted!
The yellow card meant he misses the return clash at White Hart Lane. But Milan continued to prod with more authority in the latter half of the game and came close twice but two brilliant saves by Gomez and a bit of luck meant this might just be their day. With only ten min to go, a superb break started through Kranjcar releasing Lennon, saw Crouch slot in his 4th goal in 7 matches, a crucial AWAY goal in the context of the game and Harry couldn’t have been happier.
But bad scenes erupted towards the end of full time, with Gattuso head ‘nudging’ Jordan again and Bassong retaliating. Surely this incident has marred and probably snatched the limelight away from a tactically astute and perseverant performance by Harry’s men and one can only imagine an Italian miracle will hinder this up and rising Spurs side from reaching the quarter finals.
- Spurs were the underdogs coming into this game, but a surprisingly poor show by the Italian veterans could very much end their European dream.
- Impossible to pick star performers in the Spurs team, they played as a wonderful unit right from back to front and are worthy of the WIN and returning with the precious Away goal.
- Gattuso’s boiling over more so at his team’s hapless play, is still no reason to justify his indiscipline on and off the pitch. UEFA are always better making decisions off the pitch, so expect him to be treated to a lengthy vacation.
- Harry’s request to review Flamini’s yellow to a red will surely fall on deaf ears.
- Excellent start to the European campaign for England and lets hope Arsenal will ‘attempt’ to seek revenge 🙂