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Hayler Wheeler - Ageing Gattuso adds to Milan embarrassment

Published: 16 Feb 2011 - 10:00:55

After Tuesday night's Champions League last 16 clash - who would have thought AC Milan were three points clear at the top of Serie A and Spurs were injury ravaged debutants in Europe's elite competition.

The Italians are famous for their flair and skill and the Fabio Capello Side of yester year remain a delightful piece of football history. Sadly, however, their illustrious captain, Gennaro Gattuso, reduced the meeting to a dirty encounter - throwing fists and elbows at anyone who dared cross his path.

Perhaps some justice was done when he saw his ticket to White Hart Lane go down the pan after picking up an over-due yellow card late on in the fiery clash. That'll please Joe Jordan whose nose was on the receiving end of Gattuso's forehead!

The lack of respect shown from a player who is in a privileged position of responsibility and duty was utterly intolerable. It is sad that at this stage of his career his behaviour has lead to him being branded 'a little dog well passed his sell-by date'. But on the evidence of tonight, you couldn't argue that.

He and his colleagues were on a mission to rough the Lilywhites up from the outset and quite frankly, they thoroughly embarrassed themselves. No-one likes a sore loser and we are well aware of the pressure and passion ingrained in these players, but there is simply no excuse. How many filthy tackles and raised hands went unpunished!?

Referees need to be more consistent in punishing such indiscipline. Maybe someone could fill me in on the rules - as far as I was aware, raising your hands to an opponent was a red-card offence, or yellow if the ref is a bit of a soft touch. I know I am a girl, but I thought I had got that rule down!? The tantrums and acting ability of Gattuso was almost as humorous as a post match interview with the mismatched little and large Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon!

Tottenham's bright start would have come as a shock to some viewers who might have expected them to turn up and 'park the bus' in front of White Hart Lane's enigmatic Brazilian keeper. Yet the North Londoners rocked up at the Giuseppe Meazza with every intention of burying the ghosts of their previous visit to the famous stadium.

The meanest defence in Serie A had to show their mettle as Harry Redknapp set his men up to do what they do best - attack. Even without their flying Welsh winger they could not turn their backs on what comes naturally to key their key players.

Lennon's speed mocked Antonini all evening and Luca Modric entered the frame in the latter stages to inject his usual touch of class. But for a skeleton Spurs XI to beat the Serie A leaders so comprehensively was a testament to the work Redknapp has done during his time at the club.

Even for an under-strength team, to turn up with a defensive mindset could have spelled disaster. But when do you decide to play it safe and when to go for the win? Redknapp concluded that asking attacking players to play defensive roles would be more dangerous than leaving themselves open on the break. A game-plan that worked a treat last night.

Could Tottenham really go all the way in this competition? If the way they so confidently dispatched the current Champions League holders Inter Milan and Serie A leaders is anything to go by, I wouldn't bet against them. But let's not get carried away, there is still a long way to go in the competition.

Roll on the return leg. But not for Gattuso. He will be left to lick his wounds in the comfort of his kennel.

Follow me on Twitter @Hayleywsport DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Hayley Wheeler
Despite being born and bred in the country, Hayley is a football-mad Tottenham Hotspur fan. Away from the beautiful game she has been eventing her own horses for over 20 years, having previously been a human and equine sports therapist. She has now turned her hand to sport journalism and hopes to one day be gracing your television screen broadcasting the game she loves. Follow Hayley on Twitter @Hayleywsport

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