Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Spurs strike right note to keep Harry’s dream alive

Chas and Dave will be getting a call soon. From the Tottenham marketing department to ask them about re-writing the lyrics of THAT song. You know the one 'Spurs are on their way to Wembley'.

It's not Ossie Dream, as it was in 1981, more a case of 'Arry's and it's now well and truly on, after a night of nerves at White Hart Lane.

The Spurs players held theirs to stay in the Champions League, eliminating seven-time winners AC Milan to reach the quarter-finals.

It was the biggest occasion at the ground since a young goalkeeper called Tony Parks wrote his name into Tottenham folklore, 27 years ago, with penalty shoot-out heroics against Anderlecht to secure the UEFA Cup for the north Londoners.

Now Tottenham can set their sights another European final. The biggest one of all — at Wembley in May.

If they can avoid Barcelona in the draw for the last eight and last four, I wouldn't bet against it.

Last night Harry Redknapp's heroes did not deliver a free flowing performance, like that which ripped holders Inter Milan to shreds in a, much celebrated, victory in the group stages.

This was a display littered with characteristics not normally associated with Spurs sides.

They showed steel, heart, fight and desire to earn a scoreless draw, which was enough to take them through, with William Gallas and Michael Dawson exceptional at the back and the unsung Sandro in midfield making countless tackles, interceptions and blocks to keep Milan at bay.

On a do or die night that makes the Champions League such compelling viewing, Spurs did want they had to. Defended for their lives and refused to give anything away.

In 180 minutes of football at the San Siro and the Lane, Tottenham didn't concede a goal to the team likely to win Serie A this year.

How satisfying that must be for Redknapp and his coaching staff, who were ultimately rewarded for their adventure in the first leg in Italy when Peter Crouch scored to give them a 1-0 success.

There was a belting atmosphere inside the ground.

It's not exactly Anfield on a European night, but it's not bad at all when the home fans are up for it.

Spurs supporters haven't been used to big European evenings in the last 20 years, so it wasn't surprising that at times there was an anxious air in the stands.

Thankfully, the tension didn't creep on to the pitch, except perhaps to goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who is an accident waiting to happen anyway.

He almost presented the breakthrough goal in the first half when he went AWOL outside his area but Milan's self-styled playmaker, Robinho, didn't make the most of his opportunity, allowing Gallas to clear the ball off the line to about 30,000 gasps of relief.

Robinho believes that at his best he can be as good as Lionel Messi.

Yeah, and Joe Jordan has invited Gennaro Gattuso to go on holiday with him this summer!

When Robinho was playing in England with Manchester City, he had his moments at Eastlands, but, on the road, his attitude was about as welcome as a flat tyre.

Now with Milan, it hasn't changed, with him bawling at team-mates last night when things went awry.

The visitors played at a high tempo. It was in stark contrast to the lack-lustre showing put on by the Rossoneri at the San Siro.

As well as slicker passing and greater movement, Milan were much more controlled, that element of their game clearly helped by the absence of the suspended and snarling figure of Gattuso, who had been spoiling for a fight every few seconds in the first leg.

Instead of head-butting big Joe, he was probably head-butting the walls of his Milanese mansion as he watched the game on television, with Tottenham giving way to their attacking instincts and standing firm to get the Italian job done.

Spurs go marching on and with bitter rivals Arsenal knocked out 24 hours before, it made their glory, glory night even sweeter.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph