Spurs scrape into last eight
Redknapp's men dig in to book their place in quarter-finals
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: March 9, 2011 10:07pm
Gallas hooks off the line
Tottenham were able to stand firm against AC Milan on Wednesday and grind out a 0-0 draw which keeps their European dream alive.
Having edged the first leg of the last-16 encounter 1-0 at Giuseppe Meazza, Spurs progressed to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals courtesy of Peter Crouch's priceless away goal on Italian soil.
Harry Redknapp had vowed to go on the offensive before the return meeting and, despite leaving Gareth Bale on the bench, he was true to his word.
Unfortunately for Spurs, Milan were in no mood to roll over and included plenty of attacking threat of their own within their starting XI.
It was the hosts who fashioned the first sight of goal, with Rafael van der Vaart prodding wide inside 90 seconds.
A towering header from Crouch then had Milan rocking for a moment, but Christian Abbiati did just about enough to snuff out the danger.
White Hart Lane was rocking at this stage, with the locals having waited a long time to experience such an occasion.
It was to be Milan, though, who took control of proceedings as the first half progressed, with Tottenham offering little as an attacking threat.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic worked Heurelho Gomes with a well-struck free-kick, before Crouch saw another header drop narrowly wide.
Spurs were then grateful to William Gallas for keeping their noses in front, as he hooked off the line after a scuffed effort from Robinho had ballooned up in the air.
Van der Vaart ruffled the roof of Abbiati's net with a 30-yard free-kick on the half-hour mark, but that was as close as Spurs came to worrying the Milan keeper.
Instead, it was the visitors who ended the opening 45 much the stronger, as Ibrahimovic fed Pato and he saw a low drive beaten away by Gomes.
Redknapp's men now found themselves firmly on the back foot, with some nervy defending and stray passes creeping into their game.
There were signs towards the end of the half, as Van der Vaart drilled at Abbiati and Benoit Assou-Ekotto sliced wildly wide of the target, that Spurs still had plenty to offer, but there was no denying that the Italians entered the interval in control.
Spurs, though, still had the cushion of Crouch's first leg goal to fall back on and were prepared to be patient, find their feet and work their way back into the game.
Milan, after all, were the ones having to do the chasing.
Crouch could, and maybe should, have put the tie to bed inside the opening minute of the second half, but he was caught in two minds after ghosting in behind and nodded across the face of goal rather than at it when meeting a pinpoint delivery from Aaron Lennon.
The buccaneering Ignazio Abate then troubled the home defence as he burst forward, but his cross was behind those who had ventured forward in the middle.
Marek Jankulovski became the first man to enter the book on 48 minutes for a rather crude challenge on the jet-heeled Lennon.
The Tottenham winger was finally having an impact on proceedings, with the majority of Spurs' best work during the early stages of the second period coming down his right flank.
Milan were still asking plenty of questions of their own, though, with Michael Dawson doing well to block a goal-bound shot from Pato before Mathieu Flamini drilled the rebound wide of Gomes' upright.
Spurs were starting to become a bit one-dimensional, with long balls aimed towards the head of Crouch at regular intervals - with the England international experiencing mixed fortunes in his efforts to make the most of the artillery.
Clarence Seedorf survived a loud handball shout as the hour mark approached, with the veteran Dutch midfielder fortunate to get away with a poor first touch which bobbled up onto his arm.
Tempers threatened to boil over at one stage, with Flamini, who clattered into Vedran Corluka during the first leg, cautioned for a full-blooded tackle on Assou-Ekotto, before Pato had his name taken for refusing to retreat 10 yards at a free-kick.
Bale, the chief tormentor of AC's city rivals Inter Milan in Europe this season, entered the fray to a rousing reception on 66 minutes, shortly after Robinho had forced a smart stop from Gomes at his near post.
A spate of substitutions followed, with both managers taking the opportunity to inject fresh legs into their side as nerves began to fray around north London - with the exciting Alexander Merkel among those to join the action.
Some of the away supporters felt Pato had restored aggregate parity on 77 minutes, but his stinging shot from just inside the area hit the side of the net rather than the back of it.
Spurs were still struggling to offer any indication that they were capable of taking the game away from Milan, with those in white dropping ever deeper as time ticked away.
While they were not threatening much, the hosts were defending for their lives and a defiant effort in the last 10 minutes paved the way for them to progress into the last eight, with Robinho coming closest to forcing extra-time.Redknapp becomes the first English manager to take a team into the Champions League quarter-finals and will have his sights set on securing a few more memorable scalps before Spurs' continental adventure comes to a close.
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Statistics||Milan|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|1||Shots on Target||4|
|5||Shots off Target||6|
UEFA Champions League Group A
|1||Paris St Germain||6||15|
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||7|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H