It took 11 years for the historic Milan to return to the European group of the best eight, to the quarterfinals of a Champions League that has given it such greatness. He does so after taking a pick and shovel in London to sign a goalless draw and leave Tottenham behind, disappointing and with a project that offers signs of stagnation. The team led by Antonio Conte hardly tickled a rival who, without the economic muscle of the Premier, was presumed inferior after the draw, but to whom he conceded an early goal in the first leg in Milan and against whom he was unable to turn in 174 minutes of play.
Forster, Cristian Romero, Ben Davies, Clement Lenglet, Oliver Skipp, Emerson (Richarlison, min. 69), Perisic (Pedro Porro, min. 52), Hojbjerg, Kane, Dejan Kulusevski (Davinson Sánchez, min. 82) and Heung- min son
Mike Maignan, Malick Thiaw, Pierre Kalulu Kyatengwa, Fikayo Tomori , Rade Krunic, Theo Hernández, Junior Messias (Alexis Saelemaekers, min. 56), Sandro Tonali, Rafael Leao (Ante Rebic, min. 89), Brahim Diaz (Bennacer, min. 80) and Giroud (Divock Origi, min. 81)
Referee Clement Turpin
Yellow cards Cristian Romero (min. 16), Clement Lenglet (min. 20), Conte (min. 21), Malick Thiaw (min. 92) and Oliver Skipp (min. 94)
The match had a placid point for Milan, comfortable with and without the ball. In the first facet he oriented himself through the exits offered by his forwards and the criteria of the young Tonali in the midfield. Brahim’s initial appearances were more bubbly than decisive, but the team managed as the minutes passed to cling to the calm, which is no small feat when you barely defend a goal at home from an English rival. And Brahim went further. Tottenham was a diesel, perhaps too much for what his people expected, who in the final stretch of the first act began to purr with each pass back. The Spurs lacked arrests to go after Milan, chained to a strange prudence. He even went through some suffering when coach Stefano Pioli took out the blackboard in the strategy. Junior Messias was able to score in that luck while Tottenham decided what they wanted to be in the game.
The lack of definition punished the London team. Emerson limped on the right wing during the first half hour while Pedro Porro warmed up on the wing waiting for a signal from Antonio Conte who finally did not arrive until after 52 minutes and to replace Perisic, who did not touch the ball, and send the Brazilian to the left flank.
Romero and Lenglet, two of the team’s three central defenders, were charged with bookings early in the game, Skipp and Hojbjerg barely offered any push, Kulusevski was once again icy and Son is still far from the version he was a year ago. Kane despaired, malnourished as he was, and decided to go to make contact with the ball in the central circle or to take out the band.
Tottenham collapsed without the ability to reach the Milan area, which after the break also found Brahim Díaz. The magician from Malaga took the wand and sowed panic by class and ability to arrive with a couple of forays into the local area. He warned Milan just when Tottenham was beginning to feel that the time to speculate was running out. It took Conte 68 minutes to activate Richarlison from the bench, set up a double nine with Kane and dismantle the defense of three central defenders. By then Pedro Porro had already given depth to the attack and the public had redoubled their demands on him. But right there Cuti Romero, who was overexcited and on the limit all night, ran over Theo Hernández in a gallop from the French winger and was sent off to the dugout.
With ten men on the field, with no tools to activate a blunt attack, Tottenham’s plan took little risk. Conte fled from them and so many warnings even earned him the reproach of a sector of the stands that did not understand the entry of Davinson, a defender, by Kulusevski after Romero’s red card.
The Italian Spurs coach kept order and clung to a lucky break that led him to extra time. A dispute in the area, on the edge of the offense, between Theo and Davinson could have given him that lottery. But the jackpot could touch him in a frantic final with a header from Kane after a set piece action that Maignan disrupted to start a counter that Origi finished with a shot to the post in the anteroom of the three whistles. It was then that the aftertaste of a stingy Tottenham and a hard-working Milan that returned to the great to look at the great European showcase remained.
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