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Spurs v Real Madrid, 13.04.11

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
QUARTER-FINAL 2ND LEG
WEDNESDAY 13TH APRIL, 2011

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) REAL MADRID 1 (0)
(Real Madrid won 5-0 on aggregate)

Scorer:- Ronaldo, 50

Attendance:- 34,326

Referee:- Mr. N. Rizzoli
Assistants:- Mr. L. Maggiani & Mr. A. Stefani
Fourth official:- Mr. G. Rocchi
Additional Assistants:- Mr. D. Orsato & Mr. A. Damato
(All officials from Italy)

Teams:-
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Gomes; Corluka, Dawson (Capt.), Gallas, Ekotto; Lennon (sub Defoe, 60), Huddlestone (sub Sandro, 71), Modric (sub Kranjcar, 83), Bale; Van der Vaart; Pavlyuchenko

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Kaboul, Bassong; Jenas

No bookings

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1):- Casillas (Capt.); Ramos (sub Granero, 57), Albiol, Carvalho, Arbeloa; Khedira, Alonso (sub Benzema, 75); Ronaldo (sub Kaka, 65), Ozil, Marcelo; Adebayor

Subs not used:- Adan; Garay; Di Maria; Higuain

Booked:- Carvalho (foul on Huddlestone), Granero (foul on Bale)

Champions League, we had a laugh

The dream is formally over, but we had fun. We graced some of the finest venues in Europe, but failed to conquer one the best European teams – Real Madrid. That is no disgrace, despite the drubbing we got at The Bernabeu last week. There were mitigating circumstances. We had a go last night, and had at least two good penalty shouts. We even got the ball in the net, but had the “goal” marked off because of an offside. Unfortunately, Gomes made another howler to allow Ronaldo to score in the 50th minute, but by that time, the tie was dead and gone, despite Spurs’ valiant attempt to reduce the deficit until that point. We didn’t give up, but by this time Madrid were playing within themselves, and the football started to take on the style of a friendly, with both managers taking the opportunity to give players a breather.

The Spurs crowd were well up for the game, and can be proud of themselves for their efforts throughout the game. Towards the end, there were adoring chants in favour of current and past players, with Paul Gascoigne and Gary Mabbutt perhaps spotted in the stadium and receiving plaudits.

The team news about “doubts” had perhaps been a smokescreen, as Corluka started and Spurs played with a back four and not three as had been suggested in some quarters. Both Lennon and Bale were present and the central midfield was loaded with the flair of Huddlestone and Modric. Pavlyuchenko got the nod over Defoe, and Van der Vaart played in the hole. Spurs had to adjust of course for the absence of Peter Crouch, but Real Madrid also had a key player suspended – Pepe – after receiving a yellow card last week. He was replaced by Albiol. Jose Mourinho shook his team up by playing left back Marcelo in a forward role, although at times he was to be found behind Arbeloa, who started at left back.

Ultimately, as promised by Mourinho, his team did score a goal, which meant that Spurs would need to score 6 to get past this giant of football,

Real started on the front foot, and Ekotto was the receiver of “words” from the Italian referee Mr. Rizzoli, after an early challenge upon Ronaldo, who of course made the most of his first encounter with the ground. Ozil then got goal-side of Ekotto and hit a shot on target which was held by Gomes. Spurs’ first and perhaps least strong penalty shout came after just 3 minutes, when Bale was seemingly downed in the box, but we were to see better shouts turned down by this referee, who seemed reluctant to blow for anything. Bale was the provider two minutes later when his cross was cleared from in front of the goal towards Modric, who seemed to be felled, but again the referee showed no interest.

Real had been coming forward in numbers, and always threatened, but Spurs were managing to defend well. After 13 minutes, Pavlyuchenko was brought down as he prepared to pull the trigger outside the box, after a wall pass with Van der Vaart. There was no card for the cynical foul and no reward, when Gareth Bale’s free kick passed wide. Pavlyuchenko had the golden Spurs chance of the game after 25 minutes, when Van der Vaart threaded a clever ball for Lennon to reach the line down the right channel, before teeing up Pavlyuchenko, who skied his shot in embarrassing fashion. In the next minute, Bale passed inside to Pavlyuchenko, who got a slight clip from behind as he tried to control the ball. Again, there was no success for the penalty shout, which on replay looked one of the best shouts of the night for Spurs.

After half an hour, Bale took a long throw to the near post, where Huddlestone received and controlled the ball, but hit his shot into the side netting from a very tight angle. Real then had two corners in quick succession, and Gomes could only bat away the second of these after a shot by Ramos. Adebayor’s follow-up was wide. Incidentally, Adebayor was subject only to boos, and none of the chants that have drawn attention since The Bernabeu.

Spurs had the ball in the net after 37 minutes, when Pavlyuchenko swung the ball in from the left. Modric and Van der Vaart were offside though, as Modric headed back to Bale, who fired home, only to be disappointed by the raised flag. Carvalho got the first of only two yellow cards on the night for unfairly halting a Huddlestone run. Spurs had one more shot on target before the break, but Pavlyuchenko’s effort did not unduly concern Casillas.

It had been a good half and a good effort by Spurs, but some of their training ground touches had not been coming off, and a few passes that should have reached targets had also failed. It could have been better. The tie was definitely nailed in favour of the Spanish team when Ronaldo hit a very powerful 50th minute shot from the right. Gomes parried with both hands, but the power and the spin on the ball took it past his right side and over the line, despite the Brazilian’s attempts to claw the ball away. Despite the fact that he made a similar error in The Bernabeu, we cannot lay the blame for losing the tie at the hands of Gomes, but there are more voices calling for a goalkeeper upgrade in the close season.

Sergio Ramos, who had got away with one or two heavy challenges upon Bale, was replaced by Granero, who ironically did eventually see yellow for such a foul. Van der Vaart had one of his best games for Spurs in a while, and played more and more clever touches as the game progressed. He took on more responsibility when Lennon was replaced by Defoe, but had already provided a short chipped cross for a Pavlyuchenko header which landed on the net, before Lennon and Corluka offered Modric a near post header, which also passed just over the goal. Soon after entering the field, Defoe received a ball from Pavlyuchenko, and hit a right foot shot which Casillas turned round the post for a Spurs corner.

Ronaldo was booed off the pitch as he was replaced by Kaka. Khedira made a good run into the Spurs box, with 3 defenders close at hand. Khedira went down with Ekotto the closest of the three, but this time the denial of a penalty was in Spurs’ favour. Then Kaka hit a right foot shot that Gomes could not hold, and conceded a corner. Van der Vaart won a corner with a clever back-heel against a defender, then took the kick, which Defoe headed down at the back post. Casillas managed to clear with the assistance of the bottom of the post.

Sandro had replaced Huddlestone, and Kranjcar later replaced Luka Modric. Both the departing players received great acclaim. By this time the Spurs fans were in party mood, filling the ground with the sound of some anthemic chants. Spurs final effort on goal came when Kranjcar and Sandro provided the ball for Van der Vaart, whose shot landed on the net.

Last year we dreamt of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time, and our dream came true. We’ve been given one hell of a ride, winning a group above the Italian, European and World Champions. We went to the San Siro twice and beat the current leaders of the Italian League on their patch. That was a historic win, and a great occasion for those present. We couldn’t surpass Real, but we dreamt of playing at their ground. We’ve had dreams come true, but they’ve come to an end. Now we just need our team to qualify all over again!

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