AC Milan return to UCL quarterfinals as Spurs’ struggles continues
Tottenham crashed out of the UEFA Champions League, though they managed to avoid defeat in Wednesday’s second leg, as they fell 1-0 to AC Milan over two legs in the round of 16.
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Brahim Diaz scored the lone goal of the tie, all the way back in the 7th minute of the first leg, to send AC Milan to their first Champions League quarterfinal appearance since 2012.
Spurs put their first shot on target in the 64th minute as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg weaved his way through a sea of rossoneri shirts and fired from a tight angle, giving Mike Maignan little trouble to palm it over the crossbar, but registering a shot on goal nonetheless.
Meanwhile, AC Milan were happy to soak up pressure and hit Tottenham on the counter, which they did to little effect and allowed the home side to remain in the tie for far longer than they should have done.
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Cristian Romero took care of that for AC Milan, though, when he needlessly slid through Theo Hernandez near the halfway line, earning his second yellow card of the game and leaving Antonio Conte’s side with just 10 men for the final 12 minutes.
In the end, Harry Kane was denied with Spurs’ best scoring chance three minutes into second-half stoppage time, and even then his header made for a comfortable save by Maignan. 0-0 on the night, 0-1 on aggregate.
Abysmal attacking output all too predictable from Tottenham
0.44 xG (on 11 shots) in the first leg. 0.41 xG (on 9 shots) in the second leg. That’s three straight games without a goal for Spurs (at Sheffield United, at Wolves, vs AC Milan).
Unless something changes drastically (and immediately), it’s difficult to see Tottenham holding off Liverpool for a top-four finish in the Premier League, at which point questions over Kane’s future will surely resurface this summer, at which point a full-on rebuild seems the only logical way forward (it should probably happen anyway).
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Just in time for Wednesday’s second leg, Conte returned to work after an extended period of leave to recover from gallbladder surgery.
“I wanted to come back after the game against Sheffield United, but the doctor stopped me and said you have to listen to us and wait.
“I wanted to come back early, but in this case I should respect the doctors because they were really worried after the game against Milan, and for this reason I came back on Sunday.
“Now, I am well and yesterday during the training session I had a lot of energy.”
Perhaps Conte’s return will inspire a performance more positive than the one turned in over the weekend, as Tottenham were beaten 1-0 away to Wolves. That defeat, much like this season, seemed to play out in slow motion with plenty of aimless possession and quickly fading hope. And yet, they are one or two breaks from being one of eight teams left in Europe’s premier competition.
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OUT: Rodrigo Bentancur (torn ACL - out for season), Hugo Lloris (knee), Yves Bissouma (ankle), Ryan Sessegnon (thigh)