Belfast Telegraph

Redknapp wants 'anyone but Barca' in Champions League quarter-final

By Mark Fleming

Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, claimed his team were "dreaming the impossible dream" after they held their nerve to come through a nail-biting goalless draw with Milan last night and seize a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Redknapp's team had to curb their natural attacking instincts to produce a defensive performance of character and determination to progress.

Tottenham came into the match needing only a 0-0 draw to see them through against the seven-times European champions, having emerged from the first leg in San Siro three weeks ago with a 1-0 victory, thanks to Peter Crouch's late goal.

That goal proved to be enough, although last night Serie A leaders Milan were the better side and came away from north London saying they felt "bitter" at the outcome.

Redknapp said he could hardly believe Tottenham's achievement in putting out such a major European side, but insisted he would be keeping his feet on the ground and would celebrate by having "a bacon sandwich, a cup of tea and taking my dogs out".

Redknapp added: "What we've achieved is an impossible dream. Nobody could've seen this coming, it's the first time we've ever played in the Champions League. It is a fantastic achievement. To win as tough a group as we had and then to beat Milan, top of Serie A, anything else is a bonus.

"I don't know how far we can go. We have done very well to make the last eight. If anyone had said that two years ago people would've said you were crazy. We deserve to be here. We won the group and kept two clean sheets against Milan."

The 1-0 aggregate victory puts Tottenham in the quarter-final draw on 18 March, and Redknapp admitted he would prefer to avoid Barcelona, after witnessing the Spaniards' 3-1 victory over Arsenal on Tuesday night.

"Barcelona gave one of the finest performances I've ever seen," Redknapp said. "They were amazing. Arsenal are a great team and pass teams off the pitch in our league but they looked out of their depth. Barcelona are on another level. Barcelona are the team you don't want to play."

Tottenham produced a display of defensive excellence, with Michael Dawson and William Gallas superb at the back, and the young Brazilian Sandro was magnificent in front of the back four. But goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes had to make a couple of sharp saves, and Gallas pulled off a spectacular goal-line clearance to deny Robinho.

Redknapp said: "It was nervy but fantastic. It was always going to be nervy. If people thought we were going to smash Milan out of sight they've not been watching football. We were playing Milan, who have lost three games all season, not Raggy-Arsed Rovers. I enjoyed the occasion but not the 90 minutes. I was looking at the clock, hoping it would get to 90 and be over. Clarence Seedorf was very difficult to get near, fantastic ability. But we worked our socks off."

The Milan coach, Massimiliano Allegri, described the result as hard on his team. "We played a really good game [but] if you don't score you get punished in this competition. Over the two games we deserved more than this. It leaves a bitter taste," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph