Magical and marvellous scenes on Wednesday evening. Cynics out there will tell you that the lump you felt in your throat at the game’s conclusion was actually just your heart returning to more familiar territory- after spending the majority of the ninety minutes lodged nervously in your mouth like a warm pork pie, as wave after wave of Milan attack fell by the wayside. Or into the back pockets of messrs Sandro, Gallas or Dawson. And it’s probably not too far from the truth.
And yet, somehow, in spite of all the threadbare nerve-endings and hand-over-mouth gasps as our backs pressed further and further against the wall, Tottenham emerged triumphant against the seven times European Champions and into the last eight. Woo hoo, indeed. A staggering effort. By all involved.
Inconceivable to think that before our stalemate with United in January, the only other instance in which we’d failed to concede a goal was in the season’s opener against the Oil. Now, here we sit after keeping one of the most virulent strike-forces in Europe out for three long hours. How we managed it this time around is largely- and in some cases, solely- down to the aforementioned human bank vaults of Gallas and Dawson. Who were both just…behemothic.
And, of course, Sandro. Bloody hell, Sandro. What a machine. To paraphrase Barry Davies on the short-lived Actua Soccer series for the Sega Saturn: he read it so early, he’s already on the next page. And that was the key to his success. His reading of the game was, as suggested, uncanny. Carefully dismantling Milan’s forward thrusts with subtle, well-timed tackles; never one to wade in like a wrecking ball- just intelligent use of the ball and the space around him. If he can start playing like that in the League- and not just in games which arguably are more suited to his style- ie, at a slower tempo- then we’ll have quite a talent on our hands. One feels we already do.
So who’s next for Spurs? Some would suggest it hardly matters. In my mind it would be in our interest to avoid the English and the Spanish. One’s just not exotic enough and the other too much like bloody hard work. They can wait for the final. Ahem. While we wait to find out, then, it’s hats off to Harry and the team for creating a new piece of beautiful history not likely forgotten.