Gomes error sees Tottenham’s memorable debut season in the Champions League end on sour note
TOTTENHAM 0 vs REAL MADRID 1
Real Madrid win 5-0 on aggregate
TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp has challenged his players to ensure Champions League football returns to White Hart Lane next season after their magnificent debut season in the competition ended in tame circumstances last night.
Trailing 4-0 from the first leg at the Bernabeu, Tottenham approached the task of overhauling that deficit with typical gusto but were kept at bay by Jose Mourinho’s canny side and eventually succumbed to defeat on the night when goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes allowed Cristiano Ronaldo’s 50th minute shot to squirm out of his grasp and into the net.
For Spurs, the attention now turns to securing re-entry to Europe’s premier club competition next season and with upcoming fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea, Redknapp knows he and his side have a fight on their hands to overhaul fourth placed City.
“It is no good doing it once and then not doing it again, we have to improve and be there next year too,” said Redknapp whose side trail City by three points, albeit with a game in hand. “It’s very difficult to retain that top-four spot but that’s something we’ve got to aim to do at Tottenham.
“We’ve got to be up there every year. We should be. If we can make the top four again, it would be a great achievement. It will be even harder this year than it was last year because of the improvement Man City have made.
“I still think we’ve got a big chance. We’ve got tough games. But they’re great games to look forward to and it’s good to be in there playing these games and having something to play for still. It’s better than being stuck in 12th place in the table.”
To their immense credit, Spurs attempted to ensure their passionate support were treated to one last memory to cherish from their maiden Champions League campaign.
And the unlikeliest of comebacks may have been on the cards had they been awarded an early spot kick following Xabi Alonso’s trip on Luka Modric inside the penalty area.
“I thought that it was a foul on Modric for sure,” added Redknapp. “But sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.
“I sometimes wonder what the guy behind the goal is doing there. He must be there for some reason but I haven’t worked out why.”
Mourinho begins mind games ahead of Barca semi-final
REAL MADRID manager Jose Mourinho has stirred the pot ahead of four meetings in a month against Barcelona by suggesting his track record against the Catalan giants means he will have to prepare a strategy with 10 men.
Real will now meet their great rivals in a two-legged Champions League semi-final, a crucial summit meeting in the league and the final of the Copa del Rey.
Mourinho said: “I have to train with 10 men to prepare for the Barcelona semi-final because I go there with Chelsea, I finish with 10, I go there with Inter, I finish with 10 and I have to train to play with 10 men because it can happen again.”
Schalke through to face United
SCHALKE set up a Champions League semi-final against Manchester United after beating Inter Milan for the second time in a week. Goals from Raul, his 71st in the competition’s history, and Benedikt Howedes ensured a 2-1 win on the night and thumping 7-2 aggregate win over the holders.