AC Milan booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a hard-fought 0-0 draw to progress 1-0 on aggregate against Spurs.
It was far from a vintage performance from either side in truth but Milan’s approach of waiting patiently and picking their moments to cause just enough doubt at the other end for Spurs paid dividends.
The Rossoneri missed big chances to extend their lead in the second half as the game became more stretched and Cristian Romero saw red to make things even more open, with Mike Maignan’s incredible late save on Harry Kane worthy of all the plaudits.
Milan are through to the final eight of Europe’s top club competition for the first time since the 2011-12 season when they also defeated a north London side in Arsenal.
Stefano Pioli made three changes from the team that lost at Fiorentina on Saturday night as Rade Krunic came into the midfield while Rafael Leao and Brahim Diaz resumed their places in the attacking trident behind Olivier Giroud.
The opening few minutes could best be described by the old cliche of both teams ‘feeling each other out’ as first Milan had some good spells of possession and were able to pass around then back, and then Spurs grew into the game and Perisic was the first to take a tumble under a strong tackle from Pierre Kalulu.
Milan were nearly caught out in exactly the kind of way Pioli would have warned against as a spell of pressure on the edge of the Spurs box saw Krunic give possession away and Kane fed the ball wide before Emerson Royal arrived on the edge of the box to fire a shot that deflected and Mike Maignan saved comfortably.
The Rossoneri provided a reminder of the threat they pose when Brahim Diaz slipped a ball through to Theo on the left who seemed to try a shot when a cut-back to Giroud in the box was on, and it was blocked by Lenglet before ending up in Forster’s hands.
Romero struggled to deal with Milan’s left flank in the first leg and he was the first player into the book in the 17th minute as he flew through Leao around 25 yards out. The resulting free-kick was a well-worked routine that saw Tonali find Messias on the right side of the box but the Brazilian dragged his effort wide of the far post.
Spurs were handed another pair of yellow cards as the clock ticked past 20 minutes as Lenglet was penalised for an elbow into the back of Giroud’s head and Conte also got a caution for his complaints about the incident.
The game descended into a bit of a cat-and-mouse lull in the period between the half-hour mark and the break, but Maignan did save well to thwart Kane’s pass towards Perisic deflecting into the back of the net.
The first danger of the second half came from the home side as Kulusevski cut in onto his left foot and whipped a low cross towards Perisic that was crucially cut out deep inside the box.
Then it was Milan’s turn to create danger at the other end. Theo spread the ball wide to Messias on the counter who cut back to Brahim and he somehow squirmed through a couple of defenders but saw a shot saved. Spurs failed to clear and Leao let fly with a volley that sailed past the far post.
Not long after Brahim Diaz had been cut down, Messias dropped to the floor holding his hamstring and he was replaced by Alexis Saelemaekers in the right wing-back role.
Milan were really struggling to get a foothold in the game as Tottenham continued to press, and a giveaway from Giroud indirectly led to a chance for Hojbjerg inside the box as the Dane fired from a narrow angle and Maignan did well to parry over with both hands.
Against the run of play the Rossoneri squandered a huge chance to level the game. A scrappy bit of interplay between Leao and Theo saw the latter cut a pass back to Brahim who couldn’t sort his feet out quick enough to fire a shot from the penalty spot. He eventually had one blocked that fell to Giroud, but Forster saved at the second attempt from his narrow angle shot.
As the game began to open up more, Kane got on the end of a cross with a stooping header at the near post which he almost connected too well with and missed the target. Moments later at the other end Leao latched on to a long through ball and wrestled to get it under control, eventually slashing an effort wildly over the bar and wide.
Romero is known for sometimes lacking judgement and there was certainly one of those occasions with 13 minutes left on the clock as he went in high on Theo down the touchline after the left-back had knocked it past him, leaving the referee Turpin with no choice but to reach for a second yellow and send him off.
A double change followed as Divock Origi and Ismael Bennacer were introduced in place of Giroud and Brahim Diaz.
Straight after Spurs saw penalty appeals waved away at one end Leao went on an incredible solo run up the other and the ball eventually fell to Tonali all alone just inside the box yet he waited just enough for a body to dive in and block the shot.
With a minute left on the clock another substitution came from Pioli as he brought Leao off for Ante Rebic.
The six added minutes went up on the board and the drama ensued, as Kane saw a header from a corner incredibly saved by Maignan as the ball seemed destined to nestle in the bottom corner.
The counter that resulted really should have killed the game for good with Theo pulling the ball back to Origi whose shot cannoned back off the far post. However, that was enough to spark a mass exodus as Milan’s passage to the final eight of the competition was confirmed.
Tonali almost made me scream my lungs out when he did not pass that ball. This was a great win. We were the better team from start to finish. Let’s keep up this momentum going..
On we go !
Great match by the boys after that horrendous show vs. Fiorentina. We even had several chances to kill the game with that Tonali and Origi miss. And that was our best line up. The one that gives us stability. Please stop with that CdK experiment and what not.
On to the next one. Forza Milan.
I was praying Pioli not to make a stupid mistake by bringing on CDK. He could have costed us the game.
Forza Milan! Thanks Mr. Redknapp. Feels soooooo good, thanks to you! 🙂
I am pleased with the way the team played today. Much better than Tottenham in every regard. I am a bit worried about our lack of ability to convert chances into goals though. We should have easily won this game. Forza Ragazzi ❤️
Great pitch success
Imagine if Diaz could keep that level until June… Although he should start shooting instead of trying to go round 1-2 players before the shot.
He is our most skilled player with the ball
I really want to say Krunic is such an underrated player.
His presence, calmness, control and positioning is so great.
Daiz really did amazingly well
Please, just give out Rebic and Origi, both are such a waste and add little or no flare to our games.
And to many that clamored that Tomori shouldn’t start the game, here, is the best amongst the back three.
You guys made my night
Fans of the match…..Curva Sud………MOTM …..Mike Maignan , a win is a win but we gotta put the ball in the net, no great saves by their goalie for the clean sheet just poor aim by us. Sempre Curva Sud
Quarter Finals for this team is pretty amazing. Hopefully we don’t get Real Madrid or Bayern & we might have a chance to go further.
Diaz was beautiful today, this boy is going places.
I can’t believe we did it. Tottenham played like an Italian team thank god. Bless you Conte for doing tactics instead of English run and gun or else we’d be fried. I thought the atmosphere would be too much. Holy we killed the crowd.
Another match with plenty of chances to make goals and every Milan strikers wasted it.
Nonetheless this is a great result. No one expect Milan to get through but this team turn the table.
So great job for Pioli and the team.
Nice to see positive comments on this site. Must be the first time ever. Even Pioli got complimented. 😀
Very good overall display, specially on a tatical level.
I agree but he needs to be faster, better decision making and help going forward.
“Tottenham played like an Italian team thank god. Bless you Conte for doing tactics instead of English run and gun or else we’d be fried. ”
And this get the REDKNAPP PRIZE for dumbest comment of the day.
Diaz is wayyy better than that useless long leg Charlse !
Hope to keep him
it’s 3 degrees in North London tonight, but some Milan supporters at Tottenham Stadium aren’t wearing shirts to support our favorite team.
That’s really something.
you can talk all you want about them, but when we lost 4-0 to lazio, when everything went wrong and wrong, they were still there.
always behind and beside the team, in every stadium in every city, on every away trip.
always until the 90th minute singing “I live only for you, I won’t leave you, I’ll always be with you….”
True. Hats off to them.
@Bob thats a true Milan fans, even i support this team for more than 20 years didnt have a guts to keep watching after we’re down 0-2 but despite my dissapointment i dont mocking the team like lots of fans nowdays.
Good result, I’m very happy, but we desperately need real strikers to finish off matches like this. Origi is incredibly useless, Rebic has no form, Giroud is too old. We rely too much on Theo. Leao also didn’t sell himself to the English audience with his performance, which is bad because they won’t be willing to pay for him, and he also won’t renew with us, ergo he will leave on a free transfer.
Anyway, tonight we celebrate!!!
Yeah… If ManCity & Chelsea were interested in him, I doubt they are anymore. At least they will not spend 50-100M€ for him – for sure.