STADIO SAN SIRO (Milan) – AC Milan pulled out their best performance in weeks to beat Tottenham 1-0 in the first league of their Champions League last-16 tie, as Brahim Diaz’s early goal proved enough to see off a Spurs side who never really looked able to pose a threat.
Antonio Conte would have been left pulling his hair out watching his side put in another subpar display, following their recent 4-1 defeat against Leicester, while Stefano Pioli’s side now have an edge ahead of the reverse leg in London.
Played in an incredible atmosphere, the game offered both sides a chance to leave their domestic woes behind and prove they are worthy of a place among Europe’s best eight teams, and Milan definitely looked hungrier to do so since the opening minutes.
Brahim Diaz gets AC Milan’s memorable night started
The Rossoneri got off to a lively start and it quickly paid off as Theo Hernandez broke through on the left and inside the penalty box to force a good save from Fraser Forster. The Tottenham goalkeeper kept out both Theo’s initial effort a follow-up attempt from Brahim Diaz, who was quickest to pounce on the rebound to make it 1-0 through a diving header.
Further inspired by an electric home crowd, Stefano Pioli’s side kept a high level of intensity for 40 minutes, as the visitors had no time to breathe once they reached their attacking third.
No reaction from lifeless Tottenham
Despite pushing in search of an equaliser, Tottenham struggled to retain possession for any amount of time, hindered by Milan’s pressing, which prevented them from being consistent in mounting attacks.
As a result of Spurs‘ lack of offensive inspiration, not only did the Rossoneri need to do little to tame the visitors, but they also came close to a second more than once, as substitute Charles De Ketelaere and Malick Thiaw saw their headers flash inches wide of the post in the space of two minutes with chances that they should have scored.
At the end of the day, it was easier than expected for Stefano Pioli’s side to keep their second consecutive clean sheet, which will see them have the upper hand when they’ll meet Spurs again at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on March 8.