Cool Crouch strikes for Spurs victory in Milan

Cool Crouch strikes for Spurs victory in Milan

Peter Crouch struck his sixth EUFA Champions League goal to give Tottenham Hotspur a deserved one-goal advantage in the first leg of the last-16 tie with AC Milan at the San Siro on Tuesday night.

The gangling striker kept his cool in the face of almost constant harassment from midfielder Gennaro Gattuso who resorted to antogonism as the Milan defence struggled to handle the Spurs dangerman and he held his nerve after great work from team mate Aaron Lennon to hit the winner with ten minutes to go.

Harry Redknapp’s team had dominated a slow first half but neither goalkeeper was too troubled and the second half resumed at 0-0. The dynamic of the game changed with the introduction of Brazilain ace Pato for Milan who began to put pressure on Spurs defensive line.

Huerelho Gomes was forced into two top drawer reaction saves and the San Siro crowd was sensing late victory until Lennon broke clear in the 80th minute with a scorching run from inside his own half. Drawing a vain attempted tackle from Mario Yepes, Lennon skipped past the sprawling Milan defender to square the ball into the path of Crouch who made no mistake from inside the penalty area.

Tottenham survived a late scare when Zlatan Ibrahimivic volleyed home from close range but his effort was ruled out after the assistant spotted his two-handed push on Michael Dawson and Milan were unable to create a clear opening as the Spurs defenders got their bodies in front of everything thrown into the box.

Redknapp’s ploy to use two defensive midfielders in Sandro and Wilson Palacios paid dividends as Milan were forced into too many long range efforts and Luka Modric was able to deny the Italian playmakers possession with his intelligent use of the ball after replacing Rafael van der Vaart for the last half-hour.

The game was marred by ugly scenes during and after the game. Mattheiu Flamini somehow escaped a red card after his two-footed lunge on Vedran Corluka, the Spurs full-back was carried off forcing Redknapp to re-shuffle his back four, introducing Jonathan Woodgate for his first game in over a year. Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso’s belligerence got worse the longer the game went on, he was eventually cautioned for taking out Steven Pienaar with a late tackle after trying to provoke Crouch into retaliation. But, the Italian’s fuse blew after the final whistle when he tried to head butt Tottenham coach Joe Jordan as the pair squared up on the touchline.

Victory was sweet for Crouch who suffered heartbreak at the hands of AC Milan in 2007 when he was part of the Liverpool team that lost to the Rosseneri in the UEFA Champions League final and he’ll be looking to finish off the job in the second leg at White Hart Lane next month for a place in the quarter-finals.
 

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