Famous victory for Spurs on Milan’s horror night
Tottenham win first leg as Milan’s captain Gennaro Gattuso goes on rampage
AC Milan 0 Tottenham 1. Spurs enjoyed their finest night in Europe for decades with a 1-0 victory in the San Siro as Milan lost their heads in one of the most shameful displays in Champions League history.
Seconds after the final whistle, Milan captain Gennaro Gattuso ran to the Tottenham bench and headbutted coach Joe Jordan. As Jordan squared up to the raging Gattuso he was restrained by Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, who joked later: “There would be only one winner there – Joe. I'd have my money on Joe. Of all the people to pick on, don't pick on Joe!"
What sparked Gattuso’s extraordinary action wasn’t clear, though the two had had a touchline altercation during a bad-tempered second-half in which Milan’s Mathieu Flamini should have seen red for a two-footed challenge on Vedran Corluka.
Flamini escaped with just a yellow but Gattuso can expect to be severely punished for his moment of madness, and the veteran midfielder knows it. "I lost control," he said later. "There is no excuse for what I did. I take my responsibilities for that... I didn't want to argue with players and I did it with him [Jordan], but I was wrong to do what I have done. I will have to await what they decide."
Whatever punishment UEFA decide to dish out to Gattuso, he’s already out of the return leg at White Hart Lane in three weeks' time for picking up a yellow card for scything down Steven Pienaar, one of a number of fouls committed by the Italians in a second-half that was far more intense than the dour first period.
Spurs were the better team in the first-half and Milan only started to play after the break with Mario Yepes coming close to giving his side the lead with two powerful headers. On both occasions, however, Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes pulled off excellent saves as the frustration began to build in the San Siro.
First to crack was former Arsenal midfielder Matthieu Flamini, who launched himself at Corluka in a tackle that left Redknapp livid. "How do you not get a red card for that?" he fumed later. "Absolute disgrace. They [UEFA] should look at it surely and they should do something about it. That was a dangerous, dangerous tackle."
As Corluka left on a stretcher, Gattuso took leave of his senses and for the next few minutes rampaged across the pitch, shoving Joe Jordan, tangling with Peter Crouch and chopping down Steven Pienaar, as referee Stephane Lannoy struggled to keep the Italian captain in check.
Tottenham refused to be rattled, however, and 10 minutes from the end Aaron Lennon surged down the right wing. Accelerating past the Milan defence, the England winger sent a low cross into the area and Peter Crouch was there to stroke it past Marco Amelia and into the bottom right-hand corner.
Milan thought they’d equalised deep into stoppage time when Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent an overhead kick into the visitors' net, but the unflappable Monsieur Lannoy disallowed it for a foul on a Spurs defender.
"It was a fantastic performance," said Redknapp. "The whole team were magnificent. You heard the crowd singing and it's a great night for them. A great night for Tottenham." ·
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