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End of the road...

Posted on 13 April 2011  - 12:00

The club's glorious, roller-coaster journey in the Champions League finally came to an end on Wednesday night.

End of the road...

The club's glorious, roller-coaster journey in the Champions League finally came to an end on Wednesday night.

We waited almost 50 years for our second appearance in the European Cup and first-ever in the new-look Champions League, and it was worth the wait.

Twelve matches, 44 goals in total, 25 scored by us and just four defeats, we took Europe's elite competition by storm and won admirers around the world.

And who would have thought it after we went 3-0 down in the play-off, first leg at Young Boys in Switzerland back in August?

To get through that tie, top a group that included European champions Inter Milan and then topple AC Milan in the last 16 was all stuff that dreams are made of.

As we all know, that dream all-but faded when Peter Crouch was sent off and Madrid put us to the sword in the first leg of this quarter-final at the Bernabeu.

Trailing 4-0, the second leg was all about pride back at the Lane and trying to gather momentum for the rest of the Premier League campaign.

The lads gave everything, but it wasn't to be. In the end, Cristiano Ronaldo's speculative 25-yarder squirmed through the grasp of Heurelho Gomes and bobbled agonisingly over the line for a 1-0 defeat on the night, 5-0 on aggregate.

We had a goal disallowed, hit the woodwork and had a number of penalty appeals waved away but couldn't find the elusive goal.

And it has to be said, Real Madrid impressed again.

Harry Redknapp made two changes from Saturday's 3-2 win against Stoke City in the Premier League.

Aaron Lennon returned down the right in place of Jermaine Jenas with William Gallas replacing Younes Kaboul. Vedran Corluka was fit to start and Roman Pavlyuchenko got the nod up front.

Management and players alike had talked about a fast start and trying to score an early goal but the visitors were straight into their stride and pinned us back in the opening minutes, Mesut Ozil wasting a decent chance.

But with Gareth Bale flying, we were soon on the front foot. Indeed, it was the winger tumbling over for the first of three penalty appeals in the first half and he then set-up the second, Iker Casillas only palming his low cross to Luka Modric, who went over as he shaped to shoot. All three appeals were waved away.

Our biggest problem was maintaining that pressure. Real Madrid are masters of the ball and despite our pressing, were always able to hold onto possession. That meant we could never sustain long periods of pressure.

Nevertheless, we had chances. Van der Vaart's delightful pass carved Madrid open in the 27th minute, Lennon was onto it and picked out Pavlyuchenko from the byline - unfortunately the Russian skied it from 16 yards.

The third penalty claim arrived seconds later as Pavlyuchenko controlled Bale's cross and went over Raul Albiol's tackle, but again, nothing awarded.

Madrid remained a danger and from Ozil's corner, Sergio Ramos' header looked to be looping in before Gomes clawed away at full stretch.

We thought we'd broken through in the 38th minute when Bale lashed home from Modric's knockdown, but the Croatian was narrowly offside from Pavlyuchenko's initial pass.

Hopes of a win on the night were dealt a huge blow in the 50th minute when Ronaldo took aim from 25 yards. Gomes appeared right behind it but lost control and couldn't scoop the ball back in time.

Deflated but undetered, we poured forward again. Pavlyuchenko headed van der Vaart's cross onto the roof of the net and Jermain Defoe announced his arrival off the bench for Lennon by forcing the save of the night from Casillas low to his right.

Madrid's strength in depth was underlined by their second substitute - as Kaka came on for Ronaldo in the 65th minute. He took less than a minute to force Brazilian compatriot Gomes into a fine save to his left.

Defoe struck the foot of the post from a tight angle after Casillas misjudged van der Vaart's corner and the Dutchman curled just over three minutes from time.

The whole spirit of this Champions League campaign was almost summed-up in injury time as William Gallas raced forward 80 yards to join the attack.

It wasn't to be on this occasion - but few will forget the 2010-11 editions to the European glory, glory nights.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Defoe, 61), Huddlestone (Sandro, 71), Modric (Kranjcar, 83), Bale; Van der Vaart; Pavlyuchenko. Subs: Cudicini, Bassong, Kaboul, Jenas.

Real Madrid (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Ramos (Granero, 57), Carvalho, Albiol, Arbeloa; Alonso (Benzema, 75), Khedira; Ronaldo (Kaka, 65), Ozil, Marcelo; Adebayor. Subs: Adan, Garay, Higuain, Di Maria.

Goals: Real Madrid - Ronaldo, 50.

Attendance: 34,311.

Referee: Mr N Rizzoli (Italy).