Real Madrid put a giant foot in the last four of the UEFA Champions League with a thumping 4-0 home win over 10-man Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter-final first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu today.
A headed brace from Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor and late goals from Angel di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo put Tottenham to the sword in Madrid's fifth straight home win in Europe. The four-goal lead gives Tottenham a mountain to climb in the second leg at White Hart Lane on 13 April.
Tottenham, who last reached a European Cup semi-final back in 1962, were left to rue the early sending off of striker Peter Crouch on 15 minutes for a late lunge as the home side made the ten men pay. "I haven't seen a replay of the tackle," said Tottenham coach Harry Redknapp. "He already has a yellow card and he shouldn't take the chance of getting a red card. I am disappointed. It is going to be difficult to turn around. Trailing 4-0 to Real Madrid is very difficult and we have a mountain to climb no doubt about that, but we will give our all at White Hart Lane."
Real coach Jose Mourinho had seen his 150-match nine-year unbeaten home league record come to an end on Saturday with a 1-0 loss against Sporting Gijon, however, his team responded with a victory that puts the nine-time champions in the driving seat to reach the last four. "We have to take advantage of this lead because anything can happen and we can't underestimate Tottenham," said Ronaldo. "Regardless of the fact that we were playing against ten men the team played well. It was tough going in the first half but we improved a lot in the second half."
Real coach Jose Mourinho had seen his 150-match nine-year unbeaten home league record come to an end on Saturday with a 1-0 loss against Sporting Gijon, however, his team responded with a victory that puts the nine-time champions in the driving seat to reach the last four.
Mourinho, who won the Champions League with Inter Milan on this ground last May, said he would have to take a risk on Portuguese star Ronaldo, who was struggling with a hamstring complaint, and he felt the gamble was worth it as the world's most expensive player started the match. Brazilian left back Marcelo also came back from injury with Adebayor starting as a lone striker.
Tottenham coach Harry Redknapp welcomed Welsh winger Gareth Bale overcoming a niggling hamstring injury to start, while experienced French centre-back Willam Gallas was passed fit. Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart started against his old club, but Redknapp had to draft in Jermaine Jenas for Aaron Lennon at the last minute.
The Bernabeu home crowd were nervous after the shock loss to Gijon, but the hosts got off to the perfect start scoring after just four minutes. A corner from the right found Adebayor in the penalty area and the striker planted a header toward goal and the unfortunate Luka Modric could not keep the effort out as it went between his legs. It was a setback for the visitors, who were then reduced to ten men on 15 minutes with Crouch's rash lunge on Marcelo earning him a second caution.
Real dominated possession but a half chance from Ronaldo was all they had to show for their extra man. Bale had been quiet but sparked into life in the 28th minute with his gigantic throw catching Real off guard. Van der Vaart, however, could not get a shot off. Bale then powered down the left and raced in on goal only for his shot to hit the side netting.
Adebayor, well known to the Spurs fans from his Arsenal days, was inches away from heading in his second goal on 32 minutes, but was centimetres away from converting Sergio Ramos' unorthodox headed cross. Portuguese centre-back Pepe was then booked for hacking down Bale close to half-time and will now the miss return leg.
Van der Vaart made way for striker Jermain Defoe in the second half in a brave move from Redknapp. Unfortunately for the boss, it didn't pay off as Ronaldo - shooting from everywhere - drilled a left-footed shot wide of the post early in the second half to sound out a warning.
On 57 minutes Real got the second goal they craved with a corner finding Marcelo. Adebayor was again unmarked and directed a header into the corner. He almost got a hat-trick with another header before Argentine di Maria netted on 72 minutes cutting inside before bending a terrific shot into the corner with his left foot. Ronaldo made it four in the closing minutes with a volley although goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes should have done better.