Wishing your life away

Tottenham Hotspur 0 -0 AC Milan - 9th March 2011 - Spurs go through to the quarter finals of the Champions League 1-0 on aggregate - video highlights

until the ref blows that final whistle.

‘Arry said the only way Spurs know is to attack but at the back of our mind we all knew there is another Spurs’ way.

It’s the having a slender lead and trying to see out the game by dropping deeper and deeper, not having much possession cause you keep giving it away, trying to snuff out the numerous attacks flowing in from the opposition way. Most times it ends with the deflating inevitability of leads lost, sometimes games lost.

From the start last night this latter way looked like the more likely scenario, what with Spurs holding that slender one goal lead from the first leg after all. Yes there was a couple of bright moments, van der Vaart went close with a toe poke, great cross field ball from Modric to Lennon, his cross headed down by Crouch and vdV was fouled by Nesta trying to get on the end of it. No pen. But outnumbered in the middle poor little Modric showed some early brilliant touches but was then bypassed by humps up the park, that didn’t even turn out to be 50/50 and that was far too few moments when Spurs actually had the ball.

It was a different Milan that turned up, slightly younger, brighter, sharper and on the front foot. Though they were typically Italian in the dark arts, Nesta as above and even when they’re German born Ghanaian with Boateng’s falling down at every opportunity. They pretty much bossed the first half and though Spurs upped their game after the break they were still second best. As for most of the game Spurs conceded possession with frightening ease while Milan players were first to nearly every lose ball…

Gomes: Again it was the good, the bad and the ugly. Two great saves, from Ibrahimovic and Pato. He came for a number of crosses and commanded his box well at times but then the rush of blood as he rushed out on the advancing Pato, who lead his fellow countryman a merry dance before finding Robinho who luckily scuffed it onto the lunging Assou-Ekotto for the ball to loop up and give Gallas time to reposition and clear it off the line. Forgot to add his distribution was atrocious, to rushed, playing others into trouble or just giving the ball away.

Corluka: All happy to see him back in place of Hutton but he can’t half give you the vapours. He has a nasty habit of waiting and waiting on the ball, it gives time for an opponent to close him down and the way he lets it run across his body he corals himself into only having poor options. A tight punt up the park, going out most times or a panicked backpass playing others into trouble. His link up with Lennon is better but he gave the ball away far too much and just heaped pressure on the defence.

Gallas: That clearance off the line summed him up. Seemed to be in the right place at the right time most of the night, Robinho was quiet and Pato had chances but was negated a lot through the night. The Gallas that makes us forget about his past.

Dawson: Ibrahimovic, was he playing? Well he only scores against English teams from Woolwich.

Assou-Ekotto: You always feel he’s an accident waiting to happen but it didn’t, caught out by Abbiati a few times.

Lennon: Wasn’t in it first half, but when he was he was the outlet, had the beating of Jankulovski, should have attacked him more after the Milan fullback was carded but really just didn’t get enough ball to play with. Some good crosses, left footed one to Crouch just after the break was a peach.

Modric: As said before some nice touches but bypassed and outnumbered. He did a lot of tracking back and sticking his foot in, not afraid of the dirty work.

Piennaar: There’s got to be better than this. Yes he runs about a bit and tracked back a bit but just doesn’t look up to the task, certainly not wide left. Didn’t do enough to stay wide and didn’t do enough to help Modric inside. Christ when replaced by Jenas it really was a like-for-like replacement. The latter though caused more problems for Spurs with his dithering and passing back.

Van der Vaart: Just off the pace due to it being his first game back from yet another injury. Decent early up, maybe taken that shot with his right, curled it in. Just wasn’t sharp to Crouch’s knock-downs, those that were within reasonable reach that is. Replaced by Bale with the biggest cheer so far on the night. Great expectations. Which came to very little as you just felt he wasn’t going to touch the ball as it was all down Spurs’ right and mainly in the possession of Milan. A couple of runs showed what might have been with another real outlet. Lucky not to be on the nasty end of a scummy challenge from Flamini.

Crouch: Why didn’t he go for goal with that Lennon cross just after half time? Far post, ‘keeper’s beat. He really needs to be more cute on such nights as well, he gives the refs easy excuses to blow for a foul with innocuous pushes and grabs but even when he doesn’t refs just don’t like him. Pav came on and held the ball up well.

Wait, that’s only 10, no there wasn’t any red cards, though how Flamini was there in the first place and survived this game no one knows. Oh that’s right there was…

Sandro: I said after his debut in the Champions League it could be the making of the lad, after this his second game in Europe the Lane has a new hero. The Brazilian youngster had an outstanding game. He was here, there and everywhere, getting anything in front of any Milan shots, nicking the ball of Milan boots and then doing the simple thing well in giving the ball to a player in white to get on with it. Play like this and never mind Palacios and Jenas struggling to get back into the side, Huddlestone will be warming the bench for a bit. There’s no doubt about it there could be no other name put forward as Man of the Match. To think this is only his 57th senior game, that’s real inexperience not “ARSEnal inexperience” where they claim someone with five times that number is inexperienced.

And in the end thanks a lot to that young lad from Brazil that latter scenario didn’t have the deflating inevitable end as we all were wishing our life away second by second the ref finally blew up and there was the biggest cheer on the night because it ended up…

Quarter finals here we come…

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