AC Milan played the game without a single change in the starting eleven compared to the long-awaited 1-0 win against FC Torino. Defender Fikayo Tomori was unable to recover in time for the Tottenham clash, but Theo Hernández was available for his side after a stroke in training. The Frenchman should once again play one of the main roles in the course of the game.
For the visitors from London, Antonio Conte decided to make five adjustments to the starting XI after the 4-1 debacle at Leicester City. Rodrigo Bentancur was unable to play due to injury, and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg was suspended from the squad. Japhet Tanganga, Ben Davies and Pedro Porro also took their places on the bench for the time being. Instead, Emerson Royal, Cristian Romero, Pape Sarr, Oliver Skipp and Clement Lenglet joined the starting line-up.
In front of a breathtaking backdrop including a choreo in Giuseppe–Meazza–Stadium, Milan was highly motivated. This was also reflected in a large number of fouls, but it didn’t take long for Fraser Forster’s box to ring. Hernández got past Romero on the left and got to the touchline. From there, the Frenchman fired and forced Tottenham’s goalkeeper to save. However, the ball bounced forward – that’s where Brahim Díaz lurked. The Real loan poked the ball over the line with a header (7th).
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The Spurs recovered from this shock and got stronger. However, this hardly resulted in any chances, Harry Kane’s crossbar bang was probably the most dangerous offensive action, whereby the linesman rightly ruled offside anyway (45th). After the restart, the Milanese took over the initiative. The game could have tipped over, but Romero only saw yellow for a risky foul with an outstretched leg against Sandro Tonali (48th).
Antonio Conte made his first substitution in the 70th minute, despite his team’s ability to improve, bringing on Brazil star Richarlison. Milan didn’t let that throw them off balance either. The largely unimaginative Spurs approaches with crosses and headers from set pieces rarely posed any problems for the home side anyway.
Rafael Leao was close to becoming the match winner, but Malick Thiaw and Charles De Ketelaere headed wide from a few yards out after the 23-year-old crossed (78′, 79′). So the outcome of this duel remains completely open after a deserved but narrow victory. However, Spurs will have to perform as they did in the 1-0 win over Manchester City in the league in the second leg if they still want to reach the quarter-finals.
The votes for the game:
Stefano Pioli (AC Milan coach): “That’s how you have to play at a certain level. We don’t need someone standing still. We’ve worked well, that’s how we have to play. We’ll come back, we have to persevere and keep going.”
Sandro Tonali (AC Milan): “It was the intensity and the level that I expected from us. We all gave 100 per cent and are satisfied, even if we could have done more in the final stages. A win in the Champions League always gives you a boost.”
Antonio Conte (Trainer Tottenham Hotspur): “We knew the difficulties we were going to face tonight. The game wasn’t set up incorrectly. We conceded a goal right at the start that we could have avoided. A tactical situation was created that shouldn’t have happened. “
The tweet about the game:
Rafeal Leão was one of the most conspicuous players on the pitch. Working together with Hernández, he ensured that the left wing was the more dangerous side. Nevertheless, one or the other action by the Portuguese surprised and disappointed. Too many inaccurate passes and wrong or too late decisions prevented a higher leadership. The two precise crosses for Thiaw and De Ketelaere polished that up a bit.
That was noticeable: Thiaw celebrates a successful Champions League debut
Malick Thiaw moved from FC Schalke to Milan in the summer for seven million euros. The 21-year-old central defender was not in the squad for the six group games, but today’s performance should ensure that more appearances will soon follow. Thiaw was there for the full 90 minutes, forming a solid chain with Pierre Kalulu and Simon Kjaer. Despite his young age, the native of Düsseldorf showed a mature performance and set some exclamation points, for example in a duel with Dejan Kulusevski (68th). In the final phase, Thiaw missed the 2-0 and thus the culmination of his strong performance.
The stats: 1
Before that it didn’t work out in five encounters, now the time had come: AC Milan celebrated their first win against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday. So far there have been three defeats and two draws in duels with the Spurs – the curse is broken.
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