LONDON (AP) – AC Milan’s Champions League credentials were barely tested by Tottenham as the seven-time winners advanced to the quarterfinals.
The Italian champions, however, still have a chance of winning club football’s biggest prize for the first time since 2007, while Spurs’ 15-year wait for a trophy goes on.
A goalless draw against 10-man Tottenham early yesterday was enough to secure a 1-0 aggregate win in the round of 16, with Brahim Diaz’ first-leg strike decisive.
Even the return of manager Antonio Conte could not inspire a comeback from the London club, whose best chance came in the 94th minute when Harry Kane’s header was pushed away from the line by Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan.
Milan was allowed to cruise through the game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which saw Cristian Romero sent off in the second half.
Kane’s effort was the closest the home team came to leveling the score on aggregate – before Milan substitute Divock Origi hit the post in a frantic finish.
Tottenham is now left to battle for a place in the Premier League top four, which would provide a route back into the Champions League.
Conte’s future will also be the subject of scrutiny amid ongoing speculation about whether he will remain at the club beyond the end of the season.
While the finish was thrilling, the rest of the game had provided few chances for either side.
A deflected cross from Kane that Maignan had to block at his near post was the home team’s best chance before the break.
Tottenham’s intensity improved in the second half, but Diaz threatened to extend Milan’s lead when forcing Fraser Forster to save with his legs shortly after the restart. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was then denied by Maignan after a driving run in the box.
Spurs continued struggled to create chances and their task was made even more difficult when Romero fouled Theo Hernandez and was sent off for a second yellow card in the 78th.
With just one goal separating the teams there was always the chance of late drama.
Kane came close to providing it with his powerful header that Maignan pushed off the line.