If you didn't see, Gennaro Gattuso proved himself to be the biggest d-bag in football tonight during Tottenham Hotspur's UEFA Champions League match with AC Milan. I'm not going to mention it much more in this post, because the match report should be about the performance. We will have something separate on his antics later. So, if that's what you came here to see, check back later for a different post. Here, we talk about football. For the record, Graeme Souness called him "nothing but a dog" on Sky Sports.
And what a great football match it was! Tottenham Hotspur defeated AC Milan 1-0 at the San Siro thanks to a fantastic late counter-attack goal, engineered by Aaron Lennon and tapped home by Peter Crouch. In the 78th minute, back on their heels after withstanding heavy pressure from Milan, Spurs won the ball back and set out on the counter. Luka Modric, who came on as a substitute for Rafael van der Vaart, released Lennon into space and the speedy winger took off on a 60 yard run. Mario Yepes stepped up to challenge him just outside the penalty area, but Lennon beat him easily before laying a pass to the center of the box for Crouch. Lennon did all the hard work and all Crouch had to do was tap it in.
Milan almost scored at the death, though, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the ball into the back of the net on a set piece. However, he was offsides on the play, in addition to pushing Michael Dawson in the back. Milan would fail to score, and Spurs will go back to White Hart Lane with an away goal and a 1-0 lead.
A couple of unsung heroes stepped up for Spurs tonight, with both Gomes and Sandro having absolutely superb games. Sandro showed a great work rate and great toughness all game, won a number of tackles, and even made a decent attacking contribution. Meanwhile, in goal, Gomes made a number of fantastic saves, at least three of which could easily be classified as world class, and showed great command of the box.
The referee was forced into a number of difficult decisions, some of which he got right and some of which he got wrong. Tottenham had a penalty shout at the beginning of the match for handball, but they were denied, it appeared incorrectly on the replay. Milan were also denied a good chance by the referee moments later, when Ibrahimovic was brought down 20 yards from goal, but no foul was called.
However, these were nowhere near the biggest misses by the referee. Gennaro Gattuso made a number of dangerous challenges and pushed Peter Crouch throughout the game, and this is separate from the soon to be infamous Joe Jordan incidents. At some point, Gattuso almost certainly should have been sent off. Mathieu Flamini also should have been sent off for his two-footed challenge on Vedran Corluka, which injured the Tottenham right back seriously.
Despite the referee's shortcomings and Gattuso's antics, the win should be the story for Spurs. A 1-0 result at the San Siro is massive, and they will now be favored to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Lennon, Sandro, Gomes, William Gallas, and Michael Dawson, in particular, put in absolutely brilliant performances. Tottenham will be looking forward to the second leg thinking they have every chance to defeat Milan once again as opposed to just sitting on their lead.