July 13, 2024

Toothless Spurs Knocked Out Of Champions League By AC Milan

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After their FA Cup exit last midweek, Tottenham now only have the Premier League to focus on, and the race for the top four.

FILE PHOTO: Son Heung-min of Spurs in disbelief after the North London club was knocked-out of Champions League by AC Milan. PICTURE: Getty Images

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LONDON: Milan goes into the hat for the quarter-finals at their expense, the first time the Italian giants have done so in 11 years.

AC Milan are into the quarter-finals of the Champions League after holding a toothless Tottenham Hotspur side to a 0-0 draw in North London, progressing 1-0 on aggregate.

Stefano Pioli’s side controlled the game from start to finish and frustrated Spurs, while also having the better chances on the evening.

Ultimately, Brahim Diaz’s early goal in the first leg three weeks ago was enough to send the Rossoneri into the last eight. After their FA Cup exit last midweek, Tottenham now only have the Premier League to focus on, and the race for the top four.

There was a return to the touchline for Spurs boss Antonio Conte after a lengthy recuperation period in Italy following surgery on his gallbladder. He was without many key components in the spine of his Tottenham team though, with Hugo Lloris and Rodrigo Bentancur out injured and Eric Dier suspended following his booking in Milan last week.

In a first half played at a walking pace for much of it, neither side really threatened the goal, as an expected goal (xG) of 0.2 between both sides in the first 45 was the lowest in any Champions League game this season.

Junior Messias had the only real sighter after a neatly worked free-kick saw Sandro Tonali find him in space, but he skewed the shot horribly wide.

Harry Kane’s deflected cross which almost caught out Milan keeper Mike Maignan was as close as the hosts came in the first period, as the side were booed off at halftime by the home crowd. The tempo was notched up a bit in the second half as Spurs became more expansive, but that allowed more space in behind for the likes of Rafael Leao and Diaz to counter.

Diaz had a wonderful chance early in the second half when a fortunate ricochet saw the ball land nicely for him in the six-yard box, but Fraser Forster spread himself to make the save before Leao’s follow-up flashed just wide.

It took 63 minutes for Spurs to register a shot on target, as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg blasted right at Maignan from a tight angle.

Moments later, Diaz was presented with another fantastic opportunity to put the game out of Spurs’ reach, but he inexplicably took a touch instead of firing towards the goal and the chance got away from him.

The hosts were then dealt a huge blow as they tried to salvage the tie when Cristian Romero’s reckless lunge on Theo Hernandez saw him receive a second yellow card with a quarter of an hour remaining. That was Romero’s second dismissal in his last six games after he was also sent off against Manchester City at the start of February.

A frenetic few moments in injury time saw Spurs muster their best chance of the night when Kane’s header was kept out by Maignan low to his right-hand post. On the counter-attack, Milan should have finished the tie, but substitute Divock Origi saw his strike bounce back off the post and into the grateful arms of Forster.

Despite the dramatic finish, the game would end goalless as Spurs exit the competition with a whimper. Milan goes into the hat for the quarter-finals at their expense, the first time the Italian giants have done so in 11 years.

Spurs are back in action here again at the weekend when they welcome Nottingham Forest to North London, with their sole focus now on the top four race domestically. Milan, meanwhile, also faces another relegation-threatened side in the form of Salernitana as they also aim to finish in the Serie A top four, which has become devilishly tight in recent weeks.

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