LONDON - AC Milan failed to produce the
flair that made them seven-times European champions and were
eliminated from the Champions League by Tottenham Hotspur after
a 0-0 draw put the English side through 1-0 on Wednesday.
Spurs advanced to the quarter-finals after another night of
unrelenting tension at White Hart Lane and the London club's
unlikely adventure among Europe's elite continued.
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Milan's big-name players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho,
Alexandre Pato and the evergreen Clarence Seedorf fought
non-stop but despite creating the better chances they failed to
make the last eight for the fourth successive season.
Spurs, who won 1-0 at the San Siro with a late Peter Crouch
goal, could not press home their advantage but the Premier
League side gave a resolute defensive performance to reach the
quarter-finals of Europe's premier competition for the first
time since getting to the European Cup semis in 1962.
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"It's a fantastic achievement for this club, playing in the
Champions League for the first time in our history. To have
beaten Inter Milan in the group stage and now AC Milan, well
anything else is a bonus now, just being in the Champions League
is a bonus," Spurs manager Harry Redknapp told reporters.
"Two years ago no-one would have believed we could do this,
that's the improvement we have made."
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said he was "very very
disappointed" his side lost.
"I thought we played very well, we made all the chances, the
players worked very hard and the only mistake we made is that we
did not score a goal and that's what we have been punished for,"
"So from tomorrow morning we will focus on winning the Serie
A title. I think we deserved more, because apart from the first
half of the first leg we were the better team."
He also defended the performance of Ibrahimovic after being
criticised by Italian journalists as being the worst player in
the Milan side.
"He is a great player, he played very well tonight, brought
his team mates into the play and worked very hard. But if I have
any regrets, it's that we deserved more out of the tie. I feel
bitter about that."
Redknapp conceded that Spurs were outplayed in midfield but
he praised his young Brazilian defensive midfielder Sandro.
Sandro, 21, provided much of the steel Spurs needed to repel
Milan's attacks, but when they got past him, central defenders
William Gallas and Michael Dawson held firm and goalkeeper
Heuerlho Gomes, despite one or two typically eccentric flaps,
gave a largely assured performance.
Spurs were the first English team through to the last eight
this season following Arsenal's defeat by Barcelona. Chelsea and
Manchester United are still in contention for quarter-final
Milan dominated the first half with Spurs penned in their
own half for long periods but were thankful to Gomes and Gallas
that they were not trailing at the interval.
Gomes stretched to save a goalbound shot from Ibrahimovic
after 15 minutes and did well to save from Pato just past the
But he was lucky that Gallas was on hand to save his
embarrassment after 26 minutes when he was rounded by Pato whose
cross found Robinho.
The Brazilian did not shoot cleanly, his effort looping off
defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto's back and was seemingly goalbound
until Gallas hooked it clear from under the bar.
Spurs tactic of high balls played up to Crouch from winger
Aaron Lennon, did not bring any tangible rewards even though the
Milan defence struggled at times to cope with them and the
London side's best chances fell to Rafael Van der Vaart.
He poked a half-chance wide after only two minutes and sent
a free kick just over Christian Abbiati's bar.
Milan, needing just one goal to take the tie into extra
time, almost achieved that in stoppage time when Robinho sent a
shot fizzing just over the bar.
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