Monday 18 December 2017

Real Rule

Adebayor on double as Spurs are run ragged after Crouch’s red card
Real Madrid 4
Tottenham 0

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Real Madrid's 4-0 victory over Spurs in the Champions League quarter final first leg clash at the Bernabeau last night. Photo: Reuters
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Real Madrid's 4-0 victory over Spurs in the Champions League quarter final first leg clash at the Bernabeau last night. Photo: Reuters
Peter Crouch fouls Marcelo in the incident which led him to be sent off at the Bernabeu last night. Photo: Getty Images

Jason Burt at The Bernabeu

The Tottenham supporters sang their songs goading Emmanuel Adebayor. But he silenced them. As did their own striker, Peter Crouch.

In a quarter-final first leg encounter that encapsulated the colour and verve of the Champions League, there was a little slice of north London and a throw-back to a local affair. It had to be the former Arsenal man, of all people, who scored against Spurs. And he did so twice before departing to a standing ovation.

This was also a tale of two strikers. Crouch will have had some dark moments last night as he reflected on his 11 minutes of madness in Madrid, with Harry Redknapp's talisman sent off, forcing Spurs to endure 74 further minutes with just 10 men. It was an impossible task.

"Beyond stupid," was the verdict of Redknapp's son Jamie , the former Spurs captain turned pundit, and Crouch will have agreed.

It was such a shame; a shame for Crouch, a shame for his manager, for Tottenham and for the supporters.

When Angel Di Maria struck the third goal it was like a visitation from the Angel of Death and when Cristiano Ronaldo drove in the fourth it was all over. Spurs have come to the end of the road in this competition. How can they hope to overturn a four-goal deficit against a Jose Mourinho team? No-one could.

Mourinho may have lost his first home league game in nine years last weekend but he has dealt with this competition formidably this season, with four straight victories at the Bernabeu to reach the quarter-finals and with it a sharp reminder to his local critics that the famous old club has not got this far since 2004 -- when a certain Portuguese Special One won it. Just like he did last year.

That he felt moved to remind everyone of Real's failures is in his abrasive nature and also a reflection of the escalating pressure he is under, a pressure that simply does not exist for Redknapp.

The Tottenham manager and some of his players could have been forgiven for puffing out their cheeks when they entered this vertiginous arena with the sun dipping below the giant bowl.

If ever anyone needed a reminder of what this competition represents, then here it was in black and white: the colours of Real. Cast an eye on the home bench and there sat Kaka -- plus a player Redknapp sold to Real, Lassana Diarra.

On the field of play, as the sun dipped, the stars arrived. With such an array -- Ronaldo through to Gareth Bale -- the anticipation was keen. There were potential stories all over the pitch and even one before kick-off, with Aaron Lennon withdrawn after feeling unwell in the warm-up.

Spurs were collectively soon feeling queasy, too. After Di Maria's low shot was deflected for a corner, the ball was flighted in and met by Adebayor who had been left by Lennon's replacement, Jermaine Jenas.

The header squirmed through Heurelho Gomes and then Luka Modric on the goal-line to give Real the lead. After just five minutes.

If that was a severe blow then what happened next was a catastrophe. Having been booked for a lunge at Sergio Ramos after five minutes, Crouch tried to hook the ball away from Marcelo just 11 minutes later.

He was attempting to retrieve Benoit Assou-Ekotto's raking pass but it was unwise to say the least and German referee Felix Brych duly showed a second yellow card and then a red and Crouch departed with Mourinho consoling him as he walked past him on the touchline.

Soon afterwards, former Real Madrid midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart was cautioned for kicking the ball away as Tottenham, already ragged, seemed in danger of falling apart.

They were being utterly dominated, with shots coming in from Marcelo and Ronaldo, but when Bale, with a quick throw-in, picked out Van der Vaart in the penalty area it was only the latter's hesitancy that allowed Ricardo Carvalho to intervene.

Moments later, Bale burst into the area himself, holding off challenges before firing a shot into the side netting.

It was a warning to Real, who then sent in one of their own, with the ball just clearing Adebayor as he attempted to connect with Sergio Ramos' header back across goal.

But Bale was the growing threat, galloping down the left and drawing a rash challenge from Pepe. Another card. The Portuguese centre-back will now miss the second leg.

Back came Madrid. Marcelo headed towards Adebayor when he had a clear sight of goal, with the striker's shot then blocked by Michael Dawson.

Soon after, the Spurs captain enjoyed a huge slice of fortune when he threw himself to stop another shot, this time from Di Maria, with the ball clearly striking his arms. The penalty appeals were persistent but Brych waved play on.

Redknapp acted at half-time. He took off Van der Vaart and introduced the more mobile Jermain Defoe.

It would have been a big disappointment for the Dutchman on his return to the Bernabeu but it was the right call.

Spurs needed more movement to stem the tide but were quickly overwhelmed again.

Real knew they needed another goal and went for the kill -- the outstanding Marcelo launching attack after attack down the left. Defoe was also having an effect, though, setting up Bale for a shot that was deflected wide.

But Spurs were quickly undone. Again they failed to deal with a corner, this time swiftly taken by Ronaldo to Marcelo for the ball to be floated in. Once more Adebayor met it, directing his header back across Gomes and into the net.

It was Adebayor's 10th goal in 13 matches against Tottenham and he almost collected a hat-trick in reaching another cross, forcing Gomes to tip his header over.

But Real soon had their third through Di Maria, who latched on to a poor clearance to strike a glorious, crisp shot around Gomes and into the top corner from the edge of the area.

It was emphatic but it wasn't over. Not yet. Ronaldo bagged a fourth, with a low shot beating Gomes all too easily. The game, the campaign, was up. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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