Tottenham take on AC Milan tonight in by far their biggest game of the last twenty years – the opportunity to reach the Champions League quarter-finals by defeating European giants and 6-time winners, AC Milan, is a mouth-watering prospect for Spurs fans everywhere.
But Tottenham have forged their own European pedigree over the years, having won three trophies on the continent; N17 is no stranger to big European games and it was under the floodlights of White Hart Lane that so many of Spurs’ glory glory nights have taken place. With that in mind and prior to tonight’s massive match, it’s time to consider, in chronological order, Tottenham’s 5 finest European victories.
1. Spurs 5-1 Atletico Madrid – 1963 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final
Tottenham became the first British team to win a European trophy with an emphatic victory over Spanish champions, Atletico Madrid. Club legend and prolific goal-scorer, Jimmy Greaves bagged 2 goals, as did fellow forward Terry Dyson, with Scotsman John White bagging the other.
Despite being without midfield enforcer Dave Mackay, Spurs took an early lead and went on to demolish the reigning European champions by 5 goals to 1. The fine victory brought Tottenham’s legendary manager, Bill Nicholson, his first taste of European glory.
2. Spurs 2-1 AC Milan – 1972 UEFA Cup Semi-Final First Leg
The UEFA Cup competition, which Spurs won this season, had been relatively easy going for Tottenham prior to the semi-final, but things got a whole lot harder when they were drawn against AC Milan. Spurs went behind to a 25th minute goal from Romeo Bonetti, but forced their way back into it with a Steve Perryman goal on 30 minutes.
Spurs’ record appearance holder then scored the second in the 65 minutes to send the Spurs fans into raptures. Tottenham went to Milan and secured a 1-1 draw and took their place in the very first UEFA Cup Final. Spurs will be hoping that this victory almost 40 years ago will act as a good omen for tonight’s match against the very same opposition.
3. Wolves 1-2 Spurs – 1972 UEFA Cup Final First Leg
After the victory against Milan, Tottenham took part in all English final with Wolves over two legs, as was the bizarre custom of the time. The first leg was away at Molineux, and Spurs took the initiative in the second half, when Martin Chivers headed home on 57 minutes.
Wolves equalised through a quickly-taken free kick to McCalliog, who then snuck the ball under Pat Jennings. With the game heading for a draw, Martin Chivers produced a thunderbolt from the blue with a fantastic 25-yard drive that won Spurs an important victory. Tottenham went on to draw with Wolves 1-1 at the Lane, to secure their first UEFA Cup.
4. Spurs 3-1 Inter Milan – 2010/11 UEFA Champions League Group Stage
After finding themselves 4-0 down and 1 man short by 35 minutes in their previous game against Inter, Spurs had done well to come back to 4-3 at the San Siro. However, the match at White Hart Lane was a chance for revenge, and what a way to claim it.
Gareth Bale terrorised Inter and their Brazilian right-back Maicon the whole game, setting up goals for Crouch and Pavlyuchenko, with instant hero Rafael Van der Vaart slotting away the other after a sweet pass from Modric. Beating the European Champions convincingly was almost unthinkable at the start of the season, but a masterful performance from Bale and an attacking spirit that never died allowed for a fantastic result.
5. AC Milan 0-1 Tottenham – 2011 UEFA Champions League Second Round
Though it happened just two weeks ago, the extraordinary victory of Harry Redknapp’s charges in the San Siro against a Milan team top of Serie A, despite the absence of the Welsh Wonder, Gareth Bale, must go down as one of their best ever.
With Palacios and new boy Sandro soaking up the pressure in the midfield, Spurs played an excellent counter-attacking game, which paid dividends in the 80th minute, when Aaron Lennon raced clear of the Milanese midfield, jinked round Yepes and squared for Peter Crouch to sweep home. Now it’s time to see if Spurs can capitalise on their famous victory in the return leg, tonight at White Hart Lane.
For more Spurs stories, rumour, thoughts and theories, follow me on Twitter: @stuartcfootball
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