Champions League: No surprises as Real and Schalke complete semis line-up
Tottenham’s first Champions League campaign ended in fine fashion before a pumped-up home crowd in London after Christiano Ronaldo’s goal finished off the last scrap of hope the London side had of overcoming a four-to-nil away-leg loss. It was a busy and entertaining match, a fine testimony to Spurs. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Unlike lacklustre Chelsea yesterday, Spurs played diligent football against Real Madrid, even though they knew they were probably out anyway after succumbing to a 4 – 0 loss last week. Spurs attacked Madrid again and again and in their exuberance threw themselves about in the opposition’s penalty area. The Italian referee consistently disallowed all appeals – even the one for a tackle on Modric that looked credible. The match was mostly a tight midfield battle, but not as tight as the managers would have liked. Possession swung between the teams a little too often, but credit to both sides for fighting hard to give each other as little breathing space as possible.
Before coming into this match, Spurs manager Harry Redknapp made it clear it was about bowing out gracefully from the Champion’s League (though he didn’t say so in as many words) and Spurs can be proud of their effort this season. However, the final nail in the coffin came in the second half when Christiano Ronaldo took an easy gamble and shot from some distance out. The ball curled viciously downwards and Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes mistimed the trajectory, resulting in spilling the shot rather awkwardly over his head into his net. Gomes repeated the similar mistake a few minutes later when he overshot a dive at Kaka's shot, almost missing the ball altogether. The last time we saw such tactical errors from a goalkeeper was in the World Cup, thanks to the impossibly flightless Jabulani ball – perhaps Gomes suffers from some sort of short-sightedness?
For Jose Mourinho, the win in London puts his team into the right mood ahead of their massive encounters against Barcelona in the coming days. The Special One proved to be a master tactician once again (not that we ever doubted him), and he looks like he could be on his way to a third Champion’s League medal.
Before the match
Tottenham host Real Madrid at White Hart Lane, having suffered a 4 – 0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeau last week. Despite Harry Redknapp’s rousing words over the last week, there is no way they are going to overcome this deficit against an immensely powerful Real Madrid side. The only straw that Spurs can grasp at is the fact that four Madrid players are on yellow cards.
Starting Line ups
Tottenham: 1. Gomes, 22. Corluka, 13. Gallas, 20. Dawson, 22. Assou-Ekotto, 7. Lennon, 6. Huddlestone, 14. Modric, 3. Bale, 11. Van der Vaart, 9. Pavlyuchenko.
Subs: Cudicini, Kaboul, Jenas, Defoe, Bassong, Kranjcar, Sandro.
Real Madrid: 1. Casillas, 4. Sergio Ramos, 2. Carvalho, 18. Albiol, 17. Arbeloa, 14. Alonso, Khedira, 7. Ronaldo, 23. Ozil, 12. Marcelo, 28. Adebayor.
Subs: Adan, Kaka, Benzema, Granero, Garay, Higuain, Di Maria.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli
Man of the Match
- 1st minute: Assou-Ekotto kicks Ronaldo squarely in the bottom. Welcome back to White Hart Lane, Christiano Ronaldo
- 2nd minute: And welcome back to Emmanuel Adebayor, whose every move on the ball is greeted by a volley of boos.
- 3rd minute: Frantic run into the Spurs box by Ozil, who shoots tamely at Gomez.
- 3rd minute: Gareth Bale makes one of his trademark runs from the side into the penalty box and gets bundled off the ball by Xabi Alonso. Or was that a dive? Referee is uninterested. The replay confirms that Bale went down of his own volition. Tut tut.
- 6th minute: Gareth Bale is back in Madrid’s penalty area again. He leaves Sergio Ramos languishing in the corner and makes a low cross into the area, forcing a scrambling block by Iker Casillas. The ball falls to Modric, who goes down after an apparent shove from behind. No biscuit, says the referee.
“When the saints go marching in,” roar the Spurs fans. You’ve got to admire the passion.
- 11th minute: Gareth Bale is in very good knick and you can see how it lifts the entire side. He makes another run down the left side, but passes it behind his mates into the box.
- 13th minute: Khedira concedes a free kick on the edge of the penalty area after being judged to have tripped Pavlyuchenko. Hmmm. Modric’s denied penalty was a harder tackle than that, one would think. Bale’s free kick hits the wall and comes back into the middle of the field.
- 19th minute: Sergio Ramos goes in for a challenge on an aerial ball with Gareth Bale and manages to both elbow and knee the Welshman in the air. No card shown.
- 20th minute: Ronaldo tries to fizz a shot at the near post, but misses. Both teams are finding it remarkably easy to cut up each other’s defence.
- 26th minute: Pavlyuchenko wastes what has undoubtedly been Spurs’ best chance in the match when he skies a shot after Aaron Lennon did fantastic work to draw three defenders to the edge of the penalty and then passed to the Russian who was running down the middle of the field, unmarked. Truly awful.
- 27th minute: Bale is herded to the side of the field by three Madrid players and jabs a low cross at nobody in particular inside the penalty area. Pavlyuchenko trips himself up on Raul Albiol’s foot, and a huge cry for penalty goes up. The referee rightly turns the appeal down.
- 31st minute: Sami Khedira is down near the centre circle. His face met with Albiol’s skull a moment earlier when he headed the ball away, and he’s definitely come off worst. He may have even dislodged a tooth there...
- 35th minute: Ronaldo dribbles around Assou-Ekotto and Dawson has to come to the aid of his defensive partner to stop Ronaldo’s shot at goal.
- 37th minute: Ramos has Madrid’s first dangerous shot at goal from a corner when he forces a close save from Gomez. Adebayor’s shot on rebound is well wide.
- 38th minute: Bale finds the back of the net, but Pavlyuchenko was clearly offside when he passed to him.
- 38th minute: First yellow card of the match goes to Mourinho’s assassin Ricardo Carvalho for a cynical challenge on Huddlestone.
- 45th minute: Decent effort from Pavlyuchenko from some distance off to make Casillas save a low shot.
- 46th minute: End of first half.
The pace of the match has been high and relentless. Both teams have shown a willingness to attack each other, but genuine chances to test the goalkeepers have been few. More of the same in the second half, please.
Photo: Real Madrid's manager Jose Mourinho (L) and Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp react during the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final soccer match at White Hart Lane in London April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth.
- 49th minute: Christiano Ronaldo scores! He unleashes a wicked, dipping shot at Gomes, who is caught by surprise as the ball suddenly lunges down in its flight towards him and doesn’t make a clean catch. The ball comes off the keeper and rolls agonisingly slowly into the nets.
Well, that’s that for Tottenham, isn’t it? There is no recovering from a five goal deficit against Real Madrid.
- 56th minute: Esteban Granero comes on for Sergio Ramos.
- 57th minute: Pavlyuchenko misses his second golden chance at goal when he rises a fraction too early to meet a cross from Van der Vaart. His header skims over the upper post.
- 58th minute: More disappointment for Spurs as Modric sends a header way over the goals.
You have to give it to Tottenham’s fans. They’re still going at full volume despite the dismal situation on-field.
- 60th minute: It’s Aaron Lennon and not Rafael van der Vaart who comes off for Jermaine Defoe. Interesting move by Harry Redknapp, given Lennon’s work rate in the first half.
- 62nd minute: Great first effort from Defoe, but his shot doesn’t find Casillas wanting in goal.
- 65th minute: Christiano Ronaldo goes off for Kaka.
- 65th minute: Was THAT a penalty? Assou-Ekotto runs into Khedira at quite a speed inside the Spurs penalty area, but the Madrid player doesn’t go down.
- 66th minute: Gomes overshoots another shot at goal, this one from Kaka. Luckily for Tottenham, the ball was always going wide.
- 70th minute: Huddlestone comes off for Sandro.
- 74th minute: Defoe heads a corner kick straight at the feet of Casillas, who happily clears the ball.
- 74th minute: Karim Benzema comes on for Xabi Alonso.
- 76th minute: Another dive by a Spurs player, and another penalty appeal denied.
- 78th minute: Marcello attempts a deft chip over the defence and keeper after he notices that Gomes is off his line. He beats the defenders, the keeper and also the goal with his shot. That would have been a sweet goal. The wry smile on Mourinho’s face is testimony to that.
- 82nd minute: Kranjcar comes on for Modric.
- 87th minute: Van der Vaart gets the ball just outside the box, turns and slices a curling shot that just goes over the Madrid goal.
- 90th minute: It’s just not happening for Spurs after Madrid’s defence doesn’t allow several probing runs to reach the keeper.
- 91st minute: Free kick to Madrid inches away from the Spurs penalty area. Granero attempts a direct shot and misses.
- 93rd minute: end of the match and Tottenham’s European adventure is over. Massive applause from the fans.
Schalke 2 – 1 Inter Milan
Photo: Raul Gonzalez (L) and Benedikt Hoewedes of Schalke 04 celebrate their team's second goal during the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final soccer match against Inter Milan in Gelsenkirchen, April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach.
Underdogs Schalke pulled off a big win against Inter Milan, thanks to a goal by the veteran striker Raul in the first half and a second half strikes by Benedikt Howedes, after Raul's genius lob-pass. Although Inter Milan are doubtlessly a team in decline after Mourinho left them at the end of last season, Schalke’s win is an upset and they find themselves facing Manchester United in the semi-final. They can be very happy to have made it thus far, but do they have what it takes to get past United?
For Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, the ties against United will be something of an audition. Edwin van der Sar is definitely retiring at the end of the season and Neuer’s name is one of those being mulled over at Old Trafford for a possible transfer. DM
Main photo: Tottenham Hotspur's goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes attempts to save a shot by Real Madrid's Ronaldo (unseen) as the ball crosses the goal line during the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final soccer match at White Hart Lane in London April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth.