Conte at crossroads as AC Milan extends Tottenham’s trophy drought

LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur fell within the Champions League spherical of 16 stage on Wednesday as a defender Christian Romero he was despatched off in a 0-0 draw with AC Milan.

Spurs wanted to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit however misplaced by that rating on mixture after a lackluster show at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium wherein they managed simply two pictures on course. Romero introduced down Rafael Leao to earn his first yellow card inside the first 20 minutes and was despatched off with 12 minutes remaining for an additional reckless lunge on Teo Hernandez.

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– Draw for the spherical of 16 of the Champions League: all the main points

In low cost time, harry kane pressured Milan goalkeeper mike magnan in his greatest save of the night time with a header from a free kick by Son Heung-Min, moments earlier than the substitution unique divock it hit a pole on the different finish.

Whereas Milan could rejoice reaching the quarter-finals of Europe’s prime membership competitors for the primary time since 2011-12, Spurs bemoan one other trophy-less season with a efficiency that may increase hypothesis concerning the supervisor’s future in boss Antonio Conte.

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1. Conte’s future at a crossroads

Antonio Conte stated he would “transmit my power to the crew” after returning to the Tottenham bench following gallbladder surgical procedure that saved him in Italy for many of February. Both he didn’t do it in a disastrous manner that ought to immediate a significant rethink or he has nothing extra to provide. Spurs left the Champions League with barely a whimper right here, a troublesome 0-0 draw that may solely increase questions on the way forward for their supervisor, who’s out of contract on the finish of the season.

Boos rang out at halftime and at full time. This was not a courageous and heroic departure from Europe, however a tame give up wherein Conte’s facet regarded a mixture of flat, fatigued and flawed. Spurs have typically been passive of their matches earlier than waking up within the second half and whereas there was minimal enchancment right here, the collective lack of urgency all through was astounding given the stakes. Some frank talks are forward.

There’s a prime 4 race to concentrate on – Spurs at present have a slim lead over Liverpool – however this can be a membership at a crossroads. They want readability quickly to plan for the summer season and past, with or with out Conte. The followers delivered their most stinging verdict but. Some booed at halftime, extra disagreed when Conte modified Dejan Kulusevsky for davinson sanchez late, however most made their anger identified on the last whistle.

2. Tottenham’s trophy drought continues

The final time Tottenham gained a trophy, George W. Bush was the US president, Lehman Brothers didn’t go bankrupt, and the primary iPhone was on sale for lower than a 12 months. That League Cup victory in 2008 is a distant reminiscence for thus many Spurs followers, who know that their crew performs in top-of-the-line stadiums on the earth and trains in top-of-the-line facilities however remains to be unable to win any title to show it.

There was a point of compromise in signing Conte given Tottenham’s want to win in an expansive fashion the Italian is just not well-known for, however they felt it was a worth price paying given his simple successful document. But he has been caught in the identical cyclical failure that has engulfed Tottenham for 15 years; For all his progress below Mauricio Pochettino, regardless of proudly owning England captain Harry Kane as he chased and surpassed Jimmy Greaves’ all-time membership goalscoring document, they’re unable to attain the game’s final objective of successful trophies.

There are broader issues that precede Conte, particularly an accusation made by lots of ENIC’s homeowners and chairman Daniel Levy that they haven’t invested sufficient within the crew to compete with their rivals. And that’s a debate that may resurface in earnest now that they’ve fallen quick for an additional 12 months.

3. Pioli achieves one other milestone in Milan

Stefano Pioli has struggled to recreate the consistency of final season wherein AC Milan gained its first Serie A title in 11 years. They at present sit fifth within the desk, 18 factors behind leaders Napoli and face a battle to qualify for subsequent 12 months’s Champions League. Nonetheless, he can now intention for a primary quarter-final look within the competitors since 2012, an achievement that ought to take the strain off the 57-year-old for no less than the following few weeks.

Seven-time European Cup winners Milan performed with an authority befitting their document on this competitors, not often trying involved aside from the ultimate 10 minutes when the tempo of play turned a bit extra frantic as Spurs Lastly, they took some dangers. Final season, Pioli’s crew completed final in a gaggle that included Liverpool, Atlético de Madrid and FC Porto. Now they’ll make their case as one of many eight greatest groups in Europe.

Greatest and worst performers

BETTER: brahim diazFW, AC Milan.
He gave Milan poise and authority in possession, virtually scoring six minutes into the second half with a low shot properly saved by fraser forster.

BETTER: rafael leoFW, AC Milan.
It wasn’t his simplest night time within the last third, however Spurs have been fearful of his tempo all through.

BETTER: fikayo tomoriDF, AC Milan.
He marred the again line brilliantly, incomes all three tackles and regaining possession eight occasions (solely teammate Theo Hernandez managed extra on either side).

WORST: Cristian Romero, DF, Tottenham.
Banned for 2 wild challenges. Probably the primary participant despatched off whereas mendacity within the opposing technical space.

WORST: son heungminFW, Tottenham.
He had simply 38 touches, the fewest by any Spurs outfield participant to final 90 minutes. He recorded a shot in a sport he should win.

WORST: Ivan PerisicMF, Tottenham.
He accomplished simply 9 of his 14 passes in an ineffective show earlier than being substituted after 53 minutes.

Highlights and Highlights

The perfect sequence of the match got here within the dying moments of stoppage time when Harry Kane pressured a surprising save from AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan, moments earlier than Divock Origi’s shot hit the woodwork on the different finish.

After the sport: What the coaches and gamers needed to say

Tottenham supervisor Antonio Conte on the sport, to BT Sport: “That’s the third sport in a row that we couldn’t rating. I believe the sport was balanced. I believe we will do loads higher offensively. I’m speaking about the entire crew, not simply the entrance half guys.” . We will do a lot better.

Key statistics (supplied by ESPN Stats & Data analysis)

– With eight Champions League quarter-final appearances, AC Milan trails Juventus (12) for essentially the most by an Italian membership.

– Cristian Romero has been despatched off for the eighth time in his profession (each membership and nationwide crew).

Till subsequent time

Tottenham Hotspur: Sitting fourth within the Premier League standings, they may attempt to forestall Liverpool and Newcastle United from getting the final place within the Champions League for subsequent season. Spurs face Nottingham Forest on the Saturday earlier than Southampton on March 18.

AC Milan: Tied on factors with AS Roma for the fourth and last Champions League spot within the Serie A desk, Milan will try promotion with two league video games subsequent week: Salernitana on March 13 and Udinese on March 18. of March.