A truly stunning night in the San Siro (again) left the most decorated side in European history justly defeated by the Champions league upstarts Tottenham. From the kick off Spurs knocked the ball around with confidence and ability that belied their status as champions league newcomers. The willingness to attack was clear from the outset as the pace of the midfield combined with Crouchâ€™s aerial presence had Milan pinned back for long periods. It was surreal to see Tottenham look the more assured team against such a powerful and decorated team as AC Milan.
The second half was much more contested as the hosts arose from their slumber with the emergence of Pato for the sadly one-paced Seedorf. In fact this was a prominent theme in the game; the ageing greats of world football unable to deal with the pace and industry of younger and more industrious players such as Palacios and Sandro. In a week which saw the great Brazilian Ronaldo retire due to the frustration of his body not meeting his demands perhaps some of the older Milan players were aggravated by their own ailing legs. This was most prominently seen with Gattuso who charged around aimlessly chasing Sandro, who despite being 12 years younger than him looked every part the more accomplished midfielder. This sense of anger again overflowed with a horrendous two footed lunge by Flamini on Corluka, which should surely have been a sending off. Milanâ€™s aggression, coupled with their lacklustre first half performance, reflected the true feelings that they believed this would be an easy victory against a weakened lesser-known side.
However arrogance did not triumph over determination as wave after wave of red and black attacks were repelled by colossal defending and acrobatic goalkeeping from Gomes. With 10 minutes to go realistically any Spurs fan would have taken the 0-0 draw, but this Champions league campaign has had that touch of magic for Tottenham. Lennon jinked past Yepes and kept a cool head to roll the ball to Crouch who rounded off a momentous night for the club.
It seems that Harry has the ability to inspire the team on the big occasion, and much maligned players such as Crouch and Sandro were phenomenal against players who are bordering on legendary status for Milan. The other big positive is the effect a performance like this has on the squad, as even without key men we showed a great character that shows that this Tottenham team may be together for some time and is built on much more than star names such as Bale and Modric.
As a younger Tottenham fan (same age as Sandro- damn my failed career!) I had never experienced the famous Glory, glory European nights of old that I have read about. However the two nights in Milan have more than lived up to my expectations, and I hope it is the start of another period of Tottenham greatness. And who knows, Iâ€™m an eternal optimist, and I might just keep the28th of May clear in the diary just in case Wembley comes calling!
By Matthew Pavli
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