Thursday, 14 April 2011

Match Report: Tottenham Hotspur 0 Real Madrid 1

There was a time in the not so distant past when Marca ordained Cristiano Ronaldo as God Almighty. That proclamation will inevitably return at some point in the future but in his latest act at the centre of Real Madrid’s cosmos the Portuguese confirmed that in eighteen days in April there will be four classicos.

His solitary goal here was nothing miraculous – his strike from distance, like his goal in the first-leg of this tie, owing more to an errror from Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes than genius on his part. Yet, coming a day after Leo Messi had broken the record for the number of goals scored for a Spanish club in a season with his 48th strike of the campaign, Ronaldo’s 41st goal of the season was a timely reminder that he too is on course the break his club’s record.

Spurs gave a good account of themselves and showed tremendous spirit as willed on by a vociferous and loyal support they tried to salvage some moment of note from this tie but their efforts were to no avail.

The home side started brightly, Gareth Bale a constant torment for Sergio Ramos down the Spurs left and it was he who had the first in a series of Tottenham penalty claims. However the Welshman’s appeal was rightfully waved away as he went to ground far too easily under Xabi Alonso’s challenge. The former Liverpool midfielder was more fortunate minutes later though when another penalty shout was turned down, this time Alonso appearing to catch Luka Modric as he sped into the Real box.

Spurs were generally in the ascendancy without over troubling the Real defence. The returning Aaron Lennon laid the ball intelligently back to the edge of the area for Roman Pavluchenko who fired over before the Russian had his own penalty claim turned down. Again replays showed that any award would have been harsh.

The home side did have the ball in the net eight minutes before half-time. Bale the converter but Modric had rightfully been ruled offside in the build-up.

The only negative point of a comfortable evening for Jose Mourinho’s men came minutes before the break when Ricardo Carvalho was shown a yellow card for a foul on Tom Huddlestone meaning he will miss the first-leg of the semi-final against Barcelona.

If the tie wasn’t over after a goalless 45 minutes it certainly was four minutes into the second period as Ronaldo’s speculative effort from 30 yards slipped through Gomes’ hands and despite a despairing dive from the Brazilian the ball trickled over the line.

Thereafter the inevitability of the outcome saw any sense of urgency drain away from the action. Ronaldo and Ramos were withdrawn to ensure they did not incur suspensions whilst Tottenham continued to probe without any fortune.

Substitute Jermain Defoe forced Iker Casillas into a fine one-handed save and Pavluchenko and Rafael Van der Vaart both saw efforts drift just over the bar as Spurs eventful debut in football’s premier club competition drew to a close.

Their efforts must now be concentrated in trying to ensure a return to this stage next season. For their illustrious conquerors a battle of the conquistadors will decide which Spanish representative will make a return to London at the end of May.

FT: Tottenham Hotspur 0 – Real Madrid 1 (Ronaldo 50)

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