TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp blamed the early sending-off of Peter Crouch for a ruthless dismantling by Real Madrid that reduced his side’s European dreams to rubble.

Two goals from former Arsenal forward Emmanuel Adebayor, a blistering shot from Angel di Maria and a Cristiano Ronaldo volley leaves Spurs with only the faintest of hopes in next week’s quarter-final second leg.

It was a rude awakening to a marvellous debut season in the Champions League, although Redknapp insisted even the Continent’s most battle-hardened and accomplished teams would have crumbled in similar circumstances.

“It was a difficult night,” said Redknapp. “You need a miracle here to win with 10 men. Better teams than us would probably have struggled tonight. It was an uphill task, an impossible task. For the first half I thought we did fantastic with 10 men, we had a couple of good opportunities on the break but we ran out of steam. It was one of those nights.”

Of next Wednesday’s return match at White Hart Lane, Redknapp (right) added: “It’s going to be very difficult. It certainly couldn’t be much more difficult than being 4-0 down to Real Madrid, but we’re at home, we’ll give it a go.”

Tottenham may have arrived in Madrid with hopes of an upset, having claimed the scalps of both Milan sides this season and seen unfashionable Sporting Gijon end Jose Mourinho’s nine-year unbeaten home league record at the weekend.

Yet even before kick-off they suffered a blow, winger Aaron Lennon withdrawing from the starting line-up because he felt unwell, which thrust Jermaine Jenas into the starting line-up and caused Redknapp to switch Gareth Bale to the right wing.

It soon got worse: Real took the lead in the fourth minute when Adebayor leapt highest to meet a corner and his header crept between the legs of Luka Modric on the goal-line.

Tottenham were rattled and Real rampant, and the visitors’ hopes deteriorated further in the 16th minute when Crouch was dismissed by referee Felix Byrch for his second clumsy sliding tackle.

Bale, by now back on the left, hit the side netting as Spurs regrouped, although Adebayor should have had a second before half-time, somehow failing to connect with a header when the goal was at his mercy.

The Togo forward, on loan from Manchester City, made no mistake in the 57th minute, however, punishing non-existent marking to head another corner past Heurelho Gomes.

Real turned on the style for their third in the 72nd minute, Argentina star Di Maria manufacturing an angle and a slight gap to lash an unstoppably fierce high drive into the far corner.

Ronaldo, by now eager to add his name to the scoresheet, twisted the knife again with three minutes remaining, Gomes allowing his low volley to creep in at the near post.


4 mins: With Gonzalo Higuain only fit enough for the bench and Karim Benzema ruled out altogether, Spurs may have thought they were facing the lesser of three evils in the shape of Emmanuel Adebayor. But the former Arsenal striker dispelled that theory early on, escaping the attentions of Jermaine Jenas and powering a header beyond Heurelho Gomes.

16 mins: If Tottenham’s task wasn’t already tough enough, Peter Crouch rendered it what Jose Mourinho later termed an “impossible mission” with two cautionable offences in the space of seven minutes. The first transgression, a late tackle on Sergio Ramos, was clumsy and the second on Marcelo, a carbon copy of his first misdemeanour, was utterly foolish.

87 mins: Adebayor added a second in the 57th minute, his 10th goal in 10 appearances against Spurs, and Angel di Maria struck the goal of the evening 15 minutes later. But the strike which rendered the second leg almost irrelevant arrived three minutes from time when Cristiano Ronaldo found the net with his 13th attempt of the night ?– a volley which squirmed under the body of Gomes.