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Real-ity strikes

Posted on 5 April 2011  - 12:00

Our Champions League dream looks to be all-but over after another early red card left us with a mountain to climb and 4-0 deficit against Real Madrid.

Real-ity strikes

Our Champions League dream looks to be all-but over after another early red card left us with a mountain to climb and 4-0 deficit against Real Madrid.

Emmanuel Adebayor had already headed the Spanish giants into the lead in this quarter-final, first leg when Peter Crouch picked up a second yellow card for a challenge on Marcelo.

That left us with a mammoth 75 minutes to try and stay in the tie against Jose Mourinho's men - a team that has scored 69 goals in 30 La Liga matches so far this season.

It looked good at half-time. There was no repeat of the disastrous first half at Inter Milan, when we were 1-0 down inside two minutes, down to 10 men in eight and 4-0 down at half-time.

We defended superbly, restricted Real to few chances and managed to create a couple ourselves - unfortunately, it couldn't last.

The problem was that we simply had no 'out ball', therefore handing back possession all the time.

And a team with the likes of Ronaldo, Di Maria, Ozil, Marcelo and Adebayor in the starting XI relished it.

They took their time, controlled possession and picked us off - Adebayor, Di Maria and Ronaldo adding the goals that will now make a turn-around at the Lane next Wednesday the biggest comeback of all-time in the Champions League.

Harry Redknapp made four changes from Saturday's draw at Wigan.

William Gallas and Gareth Bale recovered from injury to start with Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon. Sebastien Bassong, Jermaine Jenas, Jermaine Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko dropped to the bench.

There was late drama though before kick-off with Lennon ruled out and Jenas back in the starting line-up. That meant a quick recall for Jenas and a switch with Luka Modric on the left and Bale on the right.

Adebayor's powerful header in the fourth minute put us on the back foot but the real drama was to follow soon after.

With 15 minutes on the clock, Peter Crouch slid in to try and block Marcelo's clearance, timed the challenge wrong and sent Marcelo flying. The outcome was inevitable, the yellow card came out and the striker, head bowed, made the long walk back to the dressing room.

We re-organised with Rafa van der Vaart as the lone striker, but it was backs-to-the-wall from that point.

Chances were actually few and far between for the rest of the first half.

Gomes saved easily from Ronaldo and Carvalho, Adebayor was inches away from nodding home Ramos' header back across goal and Dawson produced a fine block to deny Marcelo.

To our great credit, there were also chances at the other end. Van der Vaart couldn't quite take in Bale's quick throw in front of goal while Dawson picked out Bale's run and the winger charged into the box before firing into the side-netting.

Certainly, there wasn't that sinking feeling experienced at the San Siro back in October.

Defoe entered the fray for the second half, replacing van der Vaart in the lone role up front.

Madrid were quickly on the front foot as Ronaldo drilled into the side-netting, but we then enjoyed a decent spell, Assou-Ekotto lashing just wide from 30 yards.

The home side then spent the best part of 10 minutes camped in our final third.

The second goal arrived on 57 minutes when Ronaldo took a short corner to Marcelo and he crossed for Adebayor to head across Gomes into the far corner.

Gomes produced the save of the night to deny Adebayor a hat-trick 10 minutes later but could do nothing about the third, Di Maria's 20-yarder scorched into the top corner.

The tempo dropped in the final 10 minutes but Ronaldo, typically, had the last word when his volley from the edge of the box beat Gomes at the near post.

The lads trudged off, drained, probably knowing this great roller-coaster ride in the Champions League is approaching its final turn.

But you never know - as the great Jimmy Greaves said, 'it's a funny old game...'

Real Madrid (4-4-2 diamond): Casillas; Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho; Marcelo; Alonso, Di Maria (Kaka, 77), Khedira (Diarra, 61), Ozil; Ronaldo, Adebayor (Higuain, 74). Subs: Adan (GK), Granero, Garay, Arbeloa.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Corluka (Bassong, 80), Dawson, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Modric, Jenas, Sandro, Bale; Van der Vaart (Defoe, 46); Crouch. Subs: Cudicini, Huddlestone, Kranjcar, Lennon, Pavlyuchenko.

Goals: Real Madrid - Adebayor 4, 57; Di Maria 71; Ronaldo 88.

Red card: Spurs - Crouch (yellow cards, 8 and 15 mins).

Attendance: 71,657.

Referee: Mr F Brych (Germany).