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AC Milan's Gennaro Gattuso didn't avoid a UEFA assault charge for his actions during the team's 1-0 Champions League home loss to Tottenham Hotspur last week, which included pushing in the throat and then headbutting Tottenham's 59 year-old coach Joe Jordan. European football's ruling body has having down a pretty stiff punishment to the Italian midfielder, who's been suspended from European competition for four games (not including his one-game ban for yellow card accumulation). From UEFA's website:
AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has been suspended for four UEFA club competition matches by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body, following incidents that took place at last Tuesday's UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg against Tottenham Hotspur FC in Italy.
The Control and Disciplinary body ruled that Gattuso had assaulted the Tottenham Hotspur assistant coach Joe Jordan after the match.
Milan's midfield was looking fairly ponderous as Tottenham soaked up pressure and hit them on the counterattack at the San Siro, and losing Gattuso for the return leg at White Hart Lane in two weeks certainly won't help matters. With Tottenham favoured to advanced to the Champions League semi-finals, Gattuso could find himself facing a long UEFA suspension for next year's group stages, with Milan still set to qualify for Europe's top competition via their league position.
Gennaro 'Rino' Gattuso walked a very fine line between 'unsporting' and 'criminal' behaviour during AC Milan's home defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in the opening match of the first-round UEFA Champions League knockout stages. While the tempestuous midfielder's hard-tackling ways were par for the course, Gattuso's shove and subsequent headbutt of Spurs coach Joe Jordan, a 59 year-old man were a different matter entirely. Fortunately for the Milan captain, who's certain to miss the trip to White Hart Lane in March thanks to his collection of yellow cards in the tournament, he will not be charged with assault or the more serious 'serious assault' by UEFA, who are instead going to slap him with a gross unsporting conduct charge instead, according to the BBC.
Although the punishment maximums are interchangeable for all three charges, the minimums are not, and Gattuso could theoretically walk away with a one-match minimal suspension (rather than three for assault and five for serious assault). However, a one-match ban for Gattuso after attacking an old man when Chelsea star Didier Drogba received six games for insulting the referee two years ago would be awfully lenient, and I'm unconvinced that a long ban isn't in the cards for the Rossoneri icon.
Tottenham Hotspur emerged from the cauldron of the San Siro with a crucial 1-0 victory against Serie A leaders AC Milan thanks to an 80th minute goal from Peter Crouch. Scoring an away goal against Italy's meanest defence is no small feat, but to do it while shutting out an attack with names like Alexandre Pato, Robinho, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is even more impressive. Leading on aggregate with that vital away goal, Spurs stand in very good stead ahead of the return fixture at White Heart Lane in three weeks.
The win was no more than they deserved. Tottenham dominated the first half, never allowing Milan to settle, and if they hadn't scored in the second a first minute handball by Alessandro Nesta would have rightfully been a key talking point in the match. It was clear that Aaron Lennon and Crouch would be a combination that would cause the home side some serious problems. Milan were totally incapable of dealing with Lennon's pace and trickery down the right, and the sheer weight of crosses sent in led to goalkeeper Christian Abiatti's departure in the 18th minute after several aerial collisions with Tottenham players.
In the second half, Milan started to grind Spurs down by monopolising possession and putting in several brutal challenges on the visitors - Mathieu Flamini should have been sent off for a two-footed tackle that saw right back Vedran Corluka stretchered off the field, and captain Gennaro Gattuso managed to get away with about ten bookable offences (including a shove on Joe Jordan, a 59 year-old coach) before he was finally shown a card. Gattuso's booking means that the midfielder is suspended for the return leg in London, which led to a rather unseemly hissy-fit at referee Stephane Lannoy.
For all that they were childish, the captain's antics seemed to fire up the rest of the team and with Pato on to start the second half they looked a much more dangerous side. Bizarrely, they got their best chances from set plays, Mario Yepes in particular forcing two fine saves from Huerelhio Gomes, who was more or less a spectator in the first half of the match. However, committing too many players forward in a desperate search for a goal is always a recipe for danger, especially when playing against someone with the speed of Aaron Lennon, and the winger blitzed up the length of the field and skipped past Yepes before setting up Crouch with the easiest of goals in the 80th minute.
The home side were uncowed by the Tottenham goal and came forward again in numbers. It looked for all the world as though they'd equalised in spectacular fashion in the fourth and final minute of injury time after Ibrahimovic acrobatically turned in a cross via the an overhead kick, but the equaliser was disallowed thanks to him first shoving defender Michael Dawson to the ground before turning the ball in. It was the last meaningful kick of the game, and Spurs emerged with a remarkable 1-0 victory, one which gives them a major edge going into the second leg of the tie on March 6th. They did it without Gareth Bale and (mostly) Luka Modric as well, both of whom should be fully fit for the return leg. If Milan couldn't deal with the pace of Lennon on the right, the prospect of facing Bale's blistering speed on the left flank must be a major worry for coach Massimiliano Allegri as he attempts to salvage his European campaign.
The final whistle wasn't the end of the action, unfortunately. Gattuso, who now faces a one-game suspension for picking up a yellow card, went over to shake hands with Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, then immediately walked up to Jordan, the coach he'd shoved earlier. Jordan might have expected an apology for the earlier altercation, but Milan's captain wasn't in the mood for contrition. Instead, appallingly, he was in a headbutting sort of mood.
Jordan wasn't hit particularly hard and managed to stay on his feet, but a bit of a fracas erupted around the Spurs bench and the disgraceful Milan captain. While the contretemps was eventually calmed down without further violence with the assistance of Rafael van der Vaart, the cameras had managed to catch Gattuso red-handed - and you have to wonder how exactly the disciplinary committees will react to a player headbutting an old man. Gattuso does have a reputation for anger problems, and the were clearly out of control today.
While Milan made their home defeat even uglier, Tottenham's players were basking in the completely deserved adulation of their fans. It was a job very well done for Lennon, Crouch, and company, and you'd expect that they can't wait for a chance to finish off their illustrious opposition at White Hart Lane in a few weeks.
Peter Crouch has given Tottenham Hotspur a shock lead at the San Siro, a goal that comes totally against the run of play after a long spell of dominance from the home side. It was right winger Aaron Lennon who did the bulk of the work, however, bursting onto a loose ball in his own half and sprinting off into acres of space. With Lennon and Crouch up against AC Milan's centre back pairing of Mario Yepes and Alessandro Nesta, Lennon skipped past a lunging challenge from Yepes and squared it to Crouch, who finished sweetly into the bottom left of Marco Amelio's net to make it 1-0 Tottenham. Milan have less than ten minutes left to turn this game around.
They should also probably consider themselves very lucky not to be down to ten or even nine men. Just minutes after Mathieu Flamini escaped a straight red card offence with just a booking, the midfielder went straight through the back of Peter Crouch with no attempt at playing the ball. It should have been a second yellow, but instead the ref simply gave Tottenham a foul and told the furious Spurs players to get on with it. Gennaro Gattuso has also been walking a fine line after shoving coach Joe Jordan in the face, getting into a series of shoving matches with Crouch, and finally was cautioned for taking out Stephen Pienaar, who's now been substituted for Nico Kranjcar. Gattuso's booking will rule him out of the return leg at White Hart Lane, and the Italian isn't very happy about that - perhaps he'd do better to play without being a 5'8" tower of burning rage in the future.
Vedran Corluka is in some pain after a very nasty two-footed lunge on the right-back courtesy of ex-Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini on the far touchline. Somehow, the card produced was only yellow - in most games a tackle like that would have been an instant red card and multi-match ban. As you might imagine, Tottenham's players were slightly vexed by the reckless challenge, and there was a bit of a rumpus as Corluka was stretchered off the field. Corluka has been replaced by Jonathan Woodgate, and Rafael van der Vaart has also been recalled for midfield dynamo Luka Modric.
The anger has started to boil over now, as Gennaro Gattuso demonstrated with a shove on one of Tottenham's coaches following a foul by Stephen Pienaar. In addition to the caution picked up by Flamini, Mario Yepes was also booked for blocking off Heurelio Gomes as the goalkeeper attempted to throw the ball out of the area. Yepes' yellow was incurred only seconds after the centreback had forced yet another fine save from Gomes from another excellent header. Spurs could easily be behind by two goals here, but considering that they've been denied a penalty and their opponent should be a man down, they probably deserve a top-class goalkeeping performance.
Massimiliano Allegri has reacted to a mediocre first half performance by AC Milan by hauling off trequartista Clarance Seedorf and replacing him with young Brazilian Alexandre Pato. Seedorf was trying to operate in the space between Tottenham's midfield and defensive line, but was being easily picked up by one of Spurs' two holding players. Interestingly, this appears to be a purely personnel move rather than a tactical shift - Robinho has dropped back into the hole Seedorf left rather than playing on a flank, which would have asked Spurs more interesting questions.
However, Milan are indeed playing a little better with Pato in the game, and the home side have just recorded their best chance of the match - Mario Yepes very nearly put them in front with a fine header from a well-worked corner kick which was met with an equally fine save from Heurelhio Gomes, who clawed the ball over the bar. At the other end, Rafael van der Vaart's cheeky lob was less than a foot from dropping into the net with Marco Amelia well beaten. Both teams have come very close to grabbing that crucial first goal in the opening stages of the half.
Tottenham Hotspur will be the happier side after an entertaining first half at the San Siro. Although Spurs were denied a clear penalty, they have more or less nullified the threat posed by AC Milan's attacking talents, and they've also seriously tested the Rossoneri defence a number of times with a series of teasing crosses. Aaron Lennon and Peter Crouch are clearly worrying Massimiliano Allegri's side, with Lennon in particular dominating the game on Tottenham's right. Despite a reasonable amount of possible openings, there've been relatively few real efforts on goal - the goalies have pulled off some fine saves, but they've mostly come off crosses rather than shots.
We also have an update on Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati, who was withdrawn in the 18th minute due to a head injury. Abbiati has been confirmed to be suffering from concussion and has been taken to hospital for precautionary scans. He is, however, conscious and talking, according to one of the medics who treated him after he collapsed in the penalty box after a series of aerial challenges with Tottenham players. Abbiati was replaced by Marco Amelia, who didn't have much to do until a long-range effort by Rafael van der Vaart forced him to tip over the bar in the 41st minute.
AC Milan have had a few opportunities to impose themselves on the match now, but have failed to come close to converting their attacks into chances, let alone goals. Tottenham's defence was caused some problems by a series of weaving passes int he centre that eventually petered out thanks to a wayward flick from Robinho, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic later failed to get near Heurelhio Gomes' net with a 35 yard free kick. Spurs have quieted down somewhat as they deal with the threat posed by their hosts, and their cause has not been helped by left winger Stephen Pienaar's habit of giving the ball straight to a red and black shirt whenever he touches it.
It's a fiesty match, and Spurs' lack of success over the last few minutes apparently has the commentary team bored, as they've moved from covering the match to a vaguely xenophbic discussion about just why Ibrahimovic and Robinho are so lazy. Meanwhile, Michael Dawson has amused himself by planting an elbow into the side of Ibra's head in the penalty box - fortunately for the centre back his transgression went unnoticed by the referee.
Heurelhio Gomes in the visiting goal had been underworked, but a bad mistake by right back Vedran Corluka gave AC Milan's Robinho the ball just 30 yards from goal. The Brazilian combined with his strike partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ibra burst towards the touchline and sent a teasing cross along the line of the six yard box, only to see Gomes bat the ball to safety with an acrobatic lunge forwards.
Seconds later, Spurs had surged forward and earned themselves a corner, only to see the ball travel right back down the length of the pitch to Ibrahimovic, who had a fairly credible penalty appeal instantly turned down by the referee. Upon further viewing, it did appear that the big Swede was fouled, but contact was made outside of the penalty box. Nothing was given, however, much to the distress of the home fans. At the moment, the game is incredibly open and it should only be a matter of time until the first goal is notched.
AC Milan are going to have to figure out how to defend crosses at some point during the next 72 minutes, or Tottenham Hotspur's aerial threat will lead to an away goal. The Milan back line, marshalled by Alessandro Nesta, has shown virtually no ability to combat the threat of Peter Crouch in the box and Aaron Lennon is ripping the defence to shreds as he crashes forward on the right. Christian Abbiati has been forced into a number of acrobatic saves already, and all of them have come from crosses directed at Crouch - he's not happy with the physical style of the England centre forward nor the failing efforts of his own defence.
In fact, he looks as though Abbiati is in some trouble after clashing with Crouch several times (although there seemed to be minimal real contact). The med staff is on the field with a stretched as the Milan goalkeeper lies on the ground holding his head - now he's being stretchered off the pitch to receive treatment, which means we have a substitution: Marco Amelia comes on in the 18th minute and takes the apparently concussed Abbiati's place in goal.
It's a rainy evening at the San Siro in Milan, where AC are hosting Premier League outfit Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs, who had the kickoff, are wearing their traditional whites, while the Rossoneri are living up to their name in their red and black home kits. Tottenham have started very brightly, moving the ball around well, and Milan are perhaps fortunate to not already be behind after a clear handball in the penalty area inside the first minute. Alessandro Nesta was the culprit as he used his left arm to block Stephen Pienaar's cross, but the spot kick was not given and the attack eventually died out after a wasted corner kick.
Despite the blown call by the referee, Spurs are looking totally up for the match. Their wide players are doing exactly what one would expect - getting into dangerous territory and looking for Peter Crouch at the back post, and Milan's defence is looking decidedly uncomfortable in dealing with the aerial threat of the 6'7" striker. However, the centre of the midfield still looks relatively weak, and it would come as a major surprise if Milan failed to dominate possession. We expected to see intent build-up play by the home side and lighting raids down the flanks by Spurs, and so far both sides are playing to the script.
Tottenham Hotspur travel to the San Siro to face AC Milan in an exciting Champions League knockout clash, but they do so without many out their big guns. Gareth Bale, who repeatedly tore Inter Milan to shreds earlier in the competition, did not make the trip to Italy, and creative midfielder Luka Modric is only fit enough to start on the bench. Milan aren't without absences either, as they have a host of injuries and several cup-tied players. On paper, the visitors don't stand much of a chance, but if they can use their wingers effectively, they may be able to snatch a crucial away goal ahead of the second leg in London two weeks from now.
AC Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Yepes, Antonini; Gattuso, Thiago Silva, Flamini; Seedorf; Robinho, Ibrahimovic.
Subs: Amelia, Alexandre Pato, Papastathopoulos, Oddo, Jankulovski, Merkel, Legrottaglie.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-5-1): Gomes; Corluka, Gallas, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios, Sandro, Pienaar, Van der Vaart; Crouch.
Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Modric, Defoe, Bassong, Kranjcar, Woodgate.
For those on the outside looking in, there's little reason why Tottenham Hotspur shouldn't be doing this well in Champions League. We see the players. We see how they've performed for the last year-and-a-half in England. Why can't Spurs also compete in the world's premier club tournament? The lack of answers for that question explains why the club's knock-out round appearance has surprised few (and why many think they'll get past Milan in the round of 16).
For a Spurs supporter, however, it's difficult to embrace current success with a heart full of past disappointments. Those disappointments, according to Cartilage Free Captain's Kevin McCauley, are keeping one Spurs supporter from fully embracing the club's new-found success. On the contrary, they're causing panic.
And Kevin tell us who, exactly, is panicking.
This guy is. This guy is having an absolute panic attack. As you all know, before this season, Tottenham Hotspur had never qualified for the new and improved European Cup, re-branded as the UEFA Champions League. Last year, if you told me that we would get through the group stage before falling to AC Milan in the Round of 16, I would have taken that and called it a serious success. Of course, like any spoiled brat, I wasn't actually done wishing for stuff once I got what I originally wanted. No, I'm a small and petulant child, as we've discussed. I want more Champions League gimme gimme gimme!
Neurotic? Sure, but when the ethos underscoring your fandom expects disappointment, success is difficult to accept, potentially explaining the guarded tone at Cartilage Free Captain. That's where you can go to get all of SB Nation's Tottenham Hotspur community content.
Much of the anticipation for stemmed from seeing 's knockout round tie with MilanGareth Bale on the Champions League stage again, but with the man who tore open Internazionle out for today's first leg at the San Siro, the focus as shifted to a more general 'how do Spurs get a result in Milan.'
The answer, according to SB Nation Tottenham Hotspur blog Cartilage Free Captain, is wide play. Last year, Milan had trouble in the knockout rounds with Manchester United's wide attackers (Antonio Valencia and Nani). This year, with Spurs having Aaron Lennon and Steven Pienaar at their disposal, CFC could see a similar match-up problem for the Rossoneri.
Between the players we have injured and Milan's strengths and weaknesses, wide play is probably where we have the best chance to put together some serious attacking threats. Milan are likely to play with three, or maybe even four central midfielders who are either two-way players or defensive minded. They have shown a willingness to play both a narrow 4-4-2 diamond and a 4-3-3, with the former formation being more common. There's often space for opposing wingers to get the ball, and Milan's fullbacks are fairly questionable. Aaron Lennon could be Spurs' key player.
Kevin McCauley, the manager of Cartilage Free Captain, has a full preview of today's match, and as would be expected from a Spurs supporter, it's laced with plenty of undue pessimism and caging. Still, the post has all the context you'll need ahead of today's first leg in Italy. You can see it, as well as the rest of SB Nation's Spurs community content, at Cartilage Free Captain.
Tuesday's UEFA Champion's League Round of 16 first leg at the San Siro with Tottenham Hotspur visiting the hosts AC Milan will kick off one of the most anticipated ties in this stage of the tournament. Milan and Spurs are clubs from two of the world's biggest leagues, from two of the world's biggest cities and two clubs with no hesitation in the attack. Despite both clubs being shorthanded each has made statements and indicated that they have every attention to open the match up and play positively, setting up what could be a thrilling match.
Unfortunately, the first leg will be a match-up highlighted by those missing. For Tottenham, the English club will have to figure out how to manage a result in the first leg that gives themselves a chance in the second leg without Gareth Bale or most likely, Luka Modric. On the flip side is Milan, who will have to play without Mark van Bommel, Emanuelson and Antonion Cassano, all of whom are cup-tied after playing in the tournament's earlier rounds for another club before being brought in my Milan last month. Also missing for the Italians will be Andrea Pirlo, Massimo Ambrosini and Kevin-Prince Boateng, all of whom are hurt.
Spurs visited the San Siro in the group stages of the Champions League, albeit to play Inter Milan, and after falling behind 4-0 in the first half they stormed back thanks to a hat trick from Bale only to lose 4-3. Even so, home wins against Inter, Werder Bremen and Twente did the trick for Spurs to win their group. Lately, with Tottenham so hamstrung by injuries that they had two keepers on their bench in a recent match just to fill all the places with healthy players, the team has done enough to pick up results that have them in fourth place in the Premier League.
Milan have capitalized on the struggles of their rivals Inter to move atop Serie A and haven't dropped three points in the league since a December 18th match against Roma. Unfortunately for the surging Italians, they got drawn into a Champions League group with Real Madrid who outclassed them both in Italy and Spain to run away with the group. Milan comfortably picked up the second place in the group and advancement, but it set them up to play a group winner in the Round of 16, which the draw determined would be Spurs.
Players flying up and down the pitch is expected in this tie with the attacking talent that both teams still have available to them. The most dangerous of the strikers either team has is the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who for all his critics scores bundles of goals and does so with a flair few can match. Pairing Ibrahimovic will be Alexandre Pato, who has loads of skill, but has yet to find any sort of consistency and has been thoroughly mediocre lately. Also up top will be another Brazilian, Robinho, who has revived his career with Milan and will routinely threaten the Tottenham defense with quick and speedy runs that will have the defenders on their heels.
It looks as if Tottenham's striker is going to be Peter Crouch, an accomplished goal scorer in the Champions League, but one who has wasted countless chances this season. Realistically, Crouch is in the team to use his 6'6'' frame to knock balls down for Rafael van der Vaart, the sensational Dutchman who will sit in underneath Crouch. One place Spurs will have to have the edge if they are to win the match is on the wings, where Milan can be exploited. In a narrow 4-3-3, Milan are vulnerable to attacks out wide and with Niko Kranjcar coming off of game-winning goals in consecutive matches and the blistering pace of Aaron Lennon, Tottenham has what it takes to dominate the wings.
In every match it is the midfield and center of the park that is looked upon with great interest as it often holds the keys to the match. This match could have featured some brilliant midfield play however the quality of those midfielders who cannot play far outstrips the quality of those who can. For Milan, van Bommel, Cassano, Ambrosini and Pirlo all unavailable. For Spurs, Tom Huddlestone and Jermaine Jenas are all certainties to miss, while even the most optimistic of Spurs supporters have Modric coming off of the bench.
The injuries leave manager Harry Redknapp was an easy choice of who to play in the center of the park as he turns to his only two healthy central midfielders, Wilson Palacios and Sandro. Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri doesn't have many better options and Gennaro Gattuso and Mathieu Flamini will likely have to take to the midfield along with a third who could be the very green 18-year-old Alexander Merkel. What could have been tantalizing match-ups such as Modric versus van Bommel and Huddlestone versus Cassano will unfortunately go unseen.
Being the home side, Milan will undoubtedly be forced to go for the win and if they had their way, do so by multiple goals to give themselves a cushion for their second leg at White Hart Lane. The Italians will be on the attack, as all home teams are in a first leg, but often that is countered by a bunkering visiting side who is content to defend and try to scrape a goal. That won't be the case with Tottenham.
"Attacking football is what got us here in the first place," Redknapp said. "We have had a go all through this competition so we will have a right go again at San Siro."
Spurs are going to match Milan's attack, setting the stage for an open match that will thrill those who complain about the negative tactics in modern football. Big clubs, big players (even with so many missing) and two teams intent on attacking. There is a reason why so many adore the Champions League and Milan and Tottenham could very well show why in a thrilling 90 minutes.
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