By Chris Wright
After quickly realising that Plan A wasn’t going to wash, Tottenham quickly switched to Plan B (i.e, sit deep, defend like it’s going out of fashion, lump it high to Peter Crouch, hope for the best) and, despite looking hopelessly one-dimensional for long periods, Harry Redknapp’s side just about managed to see off AC Milan at White Hart Lane last night and secure themselves a berth in the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals.
Chasing a goal, Milan deployed a rejigged midfield with Clarence Seedorf taking up the absent Andrea Pirlo’s ‘metronome’ mantle and providing the Italian side with a sound platform to build their attacks from all evening.
The veteran Dutchman, who completed 20 more passes than any other player on the park, was flanked by the industrious pairing of Kevin Prince Boateng and Mathieu Flamini – giving Milan’s midfield a much more dynamic edge than the relatively stodgy unit that took to the field in the first leg at the San Siro.
Seedorf would have had a definite claim for ‘man of the match’ status, were it not for one man – Sandro…
The three-lunged Brazilian was immense in the heart of the Spurs’ midfield (like the Wilson Palacios of two years ago) and nullified several of Milan’s sweeping maneuvers single-handedly, as well as consistently alleviating any mounting pressure by plundering forward with the ball at his feet for the entire span of the game. Immense.
Along with a resolute defensive performance (Dawson is an incredible ‘penalty box’ centre-half), Spurs can also feel slightly indebted to the fact that Robinho’s dainty size 3 feet struggle with these big ‘orrible size 5 balls, though it was Billy Gallas’ penchant for the dramatic goal-line clearance that eventually thwarted the lightweight winger’s flimsy effort cannoning up and in off Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s shoulder at the very last…
When asked how he planned to celebrate becoming the first English manager to guide a side into the last eight of the Big Cup, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp replied:
“I’m not getting too carried away. I’m just looking forward to getting home tonight and having a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich and taking the dogs out. It’s a great night for Tottenham but we are not going to celebrate.”
That’s the spirit old boy!
Milan capitano Seedorf may well have been spot on in his post-match assessment, the best team over the two legs may have indeed lost – but the ‘best team’ also failed to score over 180 minutes of football.
Enjoy that sarnie ‘Arry.