AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has been credited with a ‘tactical masterpiece’ as his side reached the Champions League quarter-finals.
As reported this morning by Tuttosport (via MilanNews), Milan’s performance in the second leg against Spurs was actually deserving of another victory as the Rossoneri – strengthened by the first leg advantage after the 1-0 win at San Siro – came onto the field in London and pushed rather than attempting to hold their lead.
It was a practically perfect performance by the whole team as Milan held the pitch excellently from the first to the last minute, effectively conceding very little to Spurs in terms of big chances, with the home side having just three shots on target in the 90 minutes, one of which arrived at the end from Harry Kane.
Despite the Baltic conditions of London mixed with the incandescent climate of the 60,000 Tottenham fans, Milan managed to stem the dreaded shifts of momentum that could have occurred.
When looking back, it must also be said that Milan created the better chances during the match and perhaps this inability to settle the tie much sooner is the only real sour note of the Rossoneri’s performance, albeit within a perfectly co-ordinated orchestra.
Milan have rediscovered their defensive mojo and Mike Maignan’s return in goal has contributed a lot too as the Frenchman is a leader in this dressing room and also the penalty area. He commanded the defence to perfection last night, and as a result they conceded not a lot against feared attack like that of the London club.
That save on Kane’s header in added time – the only real bit of danger from Spurs’ main man in 180 minutes – will go down in Milan history. Maignan is the symbol of this Milan: open-minded and reactive.
Now they wait for the draw and there are of course some daunting prospects, but after having played like that against a team like Tottenham twice – once in an atmosphere as heated as that of London – nobody will celebrate being drawn against Milan.