Diaz fires AC Milan to Champions League win over Tottenham – Capital Sports
MILAN, Italy, Feb 15 – Brahim Diaz shot AC Milan to a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday which gave the seven-time European kings control of their Champions League last-16 tie.
Diaz bundled in the only goal of the game in the seventh minute at a packed San Siro to give Milan the advantage before next month’s second leg in London.
The Spaniard’s strike was the first and one of very few real chances of a scrappy game which highlighted the far from sparkling form of both teams heading into match.
“I’s really happy for the team, because we did great work all week,” Diaz told Mediaset.
“We’ve been through some difficult situations but now we need to look forward… now we need to think about Serie A and then we can think about the game in London.”
Milan came into their first knockout in the competition since 2014 with their season in the balance after a horrible run of results in the past month which left their Serie A title defence in tatters.
But the Italians have a decent chance of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since 2012 after restricting injury-hit Spurs to very little on Antonio Conte’s return to Milan.
Conte, in the Spurs dugout two weeks after undergoing gallbladder surgery, handed the midfield reins to youngsters Oliver Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr after losing Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma to injury last week.
And his team failed to supply their record scorer Harry Kane with any service, Milan having great chances in quick succession late in the second half to extend their aggregate lead which were fluffed by Charles De Ketelaere and Malick Thiaw.
– Milan triumph –
“We could have scored two more goals, but the game was hard-fought, they caused us problems,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said to Mediaset.
“It’s only the first leg, the second will be even harder.”
Pioli said on Monday that Italian teams can’t compete with the financial might of the Premier League clubs.
But Diaz had an already loud San Siro roaring with joy when he pounced on Theo Hernandez’s saved shot, first forcing a superb stop from Fraser Forster before bundling home the opener.
The closest Spurs came in a stodgy first half was when Kane clipped the bar on the rebound from Son Heung-min’s saved shot, but it was futile as the Korean was offside in the build-up.
There was very little goalmouth action from that point on until De Ketelaere came on in the 77th minute, the Belgian attacker nearly doubling the hosts’ lead almost straight after coming on.
De Ketelaere met Oliver Giroud’s perfect knockdown with a header which he couldn’t direct on target from close range.
And seconds later Thiaw had his head in his hands after missing an even better chance to secure the win, somehow heading Rafael Leao’s inch-perfect cross wide with the goal at his mercy.
However Spurs couldn’t break through a backline well marshalled by Simon Kjaer which helped inflict a second career defeat to Milan for coach Conte.