Some quick thoughts on Spurs’ triumph at the San Siro, just as soon as I try and stop an Italian from headbutting a 59 year old Scot…
First and foremost, that was a fantastic performance from pretty much everyone on the Spurs team. Gomes made some crucial saves, the defence looked more solid than ever and the midfield linked up well with Crouch, creating numerous chances. Special mention must go to Van der Vaart, who was able to only play for 60 minutes as he was coming back from a hamstring strain, but with better luck he could have two goals at least. His invention and dynamism in the middle of the park galvanised the whole team and it showed how much we now rely on a player who was not even with us in the first few weeks of the season. Lennon and Pienaar on the wings worked really hard at both ends of the pitch, frustrating Milan who could not find any way through. Crouch led the line fantastically and took his goal with great confidence, not to mention managing to keep up with Lennon who looked like Road Runner as he gave Yepes a serious case of twisted blood. It was great to see Modric back also, his sure passing helping us quell any late comeback from Milan, who deserved nothing more than a defeat.
I have so many negative feelings about the Milan performance, the kindest of which is that they just were not very good. The worst of it was their petulance and dirty play – typified by Flamini breaking Corluka’s foot, not being sent off and then complaining that Spurs were time-wasting as the Spurs medical staff were picking up all the pieces of bone that had come off the Croatian’s leg. Gattuso took it to a whole new level though, fouling everyone in sight and then going head to head with Joe Jordan, our 59 year old Assistant Coach. He continued to kick his way through the night, eventually picking up a yellow card which rules him out of the second leg, but even after the final whistle he was not done – sizing up to Jordan again and clearly head-butting him. A lengthy ban from competition should be coming for him, though my preference would be to get him in a ring with the Scot, who, even at an advanced age, I’d back to come out on top.
The biggest compliment to Spurs superiority came at the very end of the game though. Watching the corner from which Ibrahimovic thought he had scored, after a clear push on Michael Dawson, I noticed that Milan had sent their keeper up in a desperate attempt to get a draw…in the first leg of a two-legged tie. That said a lot about their confidence in being able to get a win at White Hart Lane on March 9th, that they would risk being caught on the break in a last ditch attempt at equalising.
One final note, in several of the match reports I have read about Spurs getting the “Crucial Away Goal”. This is not actually the case – an away goal can only come into effect if the home team also scores – there is no result at the Lane that could result in Spurs going through on away goals. For years there has been a basic mis-understanding of what the “Away Goal Rule” means and the effect it can have. The crucial part of the Spurs goal, was that it gave us a 1-0 lead going into the home game.
But what a result – Come On You Spurs!