Having already been down to former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor’s goal, Peter Crouch produced his second clumsy challenge of the night and saw red. Boss Harry Redknapp will have great reason to be angry; a player of Crouch’s experience should have realised his responsibility to his team last night and if he didn’t, he surely would have back in the dressing room. With Aaron Lennon injured before the game, a large of part of Spurs’ threat had been nullified.
Their next option was the long ball to Crouch who is always able to bring Gareth Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart into deadly action. With Crouch also gone, Tottenham seemed feeble on the offence. The rest of the side did not help themselves either. Jermaine Jenas, replacing Lennon was almost entirely ineffectual and Van der Vaart’s first half yellow card limited his commitment too. Redknapp opted at half-time to replace the Dutchman with Jermain Defoe when bringing on Roman Pavluychenko could have fulfilled the missing Crouch role far more effectively, being able to hold up the ball and being far more dimensional than Defoe, who relies more on his poaching skills. It cannot be proved Crouch’s dismissal changed the match, but Jose Mourinho’s reaction to the red card indicated to that extent.
However, as the score line suggests, Madrid did not simply win because of the red card; they managed an extraordinary 36 shots on goal while controlling 72% of the possession. That was a team determined to atone for an embarrassing weekend loss and to revive a European giant that had not reached this stage since 2004, and so they played like it. Left-back Marcelo, often maligned for his purported inability to defend, showed just why he’s selected anyway; taking advantage of the missing Lennon to keep up with him, he continually produced outstanding crosses to pick out Ronaldo and Adebayor. And it was Adebayor who was the hero of the night. His first squirmed through the goalmouth and Luka Modric and his second took advantage of some woeful Spurs defending. Dawson and Gallas, the heroes last round against AC Milan were completely torn apart by Madrid’s free flowing attack, looking more like a Pep Guardiola side than a Jose Mourinho one.
Only Heurleho Gomes provided a positive note for Tottenham, despite soft goalkeeping for Cristiano Ronaldo’s volley. When his defence failed to close down outside the penalty area, Gomes was on hand to provide some excellent saves, particularly when he denied Adebayor his hat-trick. When Ronaldo scored, Gomes appeared bemused how that was only the fourth goal. One matter is for certain: Gomes will have to be even better if Spurs are to miraculously reverse this result.