Crouch stuns Milan as Spurs take crucial lead

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Milan (Italy), Feb 16: Tottenham's dream European adventure continued at the San Siro on Tuesday night as Peter Crouch grabbed the only goal in a 1-0 victory over AC Milan.

Despite playing without the injured Gareth Bale, the hat-trick hero when Spurs last played in this stadium in a 4-3 defeat to Inter Milan, Spurs put in a controlled and professional performance that belied their relative inexperience on this stage.

Crouch struck 10 minutes from time on a lightning counter attack in a half otherwise dominated by the hosts.

It puts the English side in a strong position ahead of the second leg at what will surely be a white hot White Hart Lane in three weeks time.

"What a performance from us. We stood tall to a man, Sandro, Steven Pienaar, Michael Dawson, Heurelho Gomes... I could go on," said Spurs manager Harry Redknapp.

"I said to the lads, too, at half time to get it to Aaron Lennon whenever we could because he tore the left-back apart all night - and his role in the goal was fantastic. It's a great night for the fans and a great night for Tottenham."

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said his side hadn't got going early enough.

"In the first half we were too afraid to go forward, it was difficult to play in suich tight spaces and we made many mistakes," he said.

"That allowed Tottenham to win the ball and counter. In the second half we changed but our efforts weren't enough."

Given that Tottenham are playing in their first season in the Champions League under its current format and Milan are seven-time kings of Europe, it was surprisingly the visitors who settled quickest.

They opened up their hosts after just five minutes with a fine move as a long cross from Vedran Corluka found Crouch, who controlled the ball on his chest but then slipped at the crucial moment and was crowded by Gennaro Gattuso before firing off a rushed shot.

On 11 minutes another great move from Spurs saw Corluka put Aaron Lennon in behind Luca Antonini but Christian Abbiati dived out to punch his cross off Crouch's head.

More good work from Spurs ended with Rafael van der Vaart scuffing a shot from 20 yards.

AFP

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