Champions League Milan was almost untested by Tottenham, the seven-time winners advanced to the quarterfinals.
However, the Italian champions still have a chance to win club soccer’s top prize for the first time since 2007, while the 15-year wait for the trophy for Spurs continues.
Tottenham’s goalless draw with 10 teams on Wednesday was enough to secure a 1-0 aggregate victory in the round of 16, with Brahim Diaz’s first-game strike being the deciding factor.
Even the return of manager Antonio Conte could not inspire the London club in the return match, whose best chance came in the 94th minute when Harry Kane’s header was cleared off the line by Milan goalkeeper Mike Mignan.
This is the third match in a row we have failed to score, Conte said. I think we can do much better offensively. I’m talking about the whole team, not just those who play in the front half. We can do much better.
Milan were allowed to get through the game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Christian Romero was suspended in the second half.
Kane’s shot was the closest the hosts had come to tying the game on aggregate – before substitute Divock Origi hit the post in a frantic end.
Of course we thought about putting pressure with intensity, but we had trouble in the first half attacking, Conte said. We felt a little pressure. I think they need to play games like this regularly to try to improve.
Conte returned to the Tottenham lineup after spending two and a half weeks in Turin recovering from gallbladder surgery.
But the Italian manager could only watch as his team failed to break down Milan, meaning Spurs are still waiting for their first major award since winning the League Cup in 2008.
Now Tottenham is left to fight for a place in the top four of the Premier League, which would allow a return to the Champions League. Conte’s future will also come under intense scrutiny amid ongoing speculation as to whether he will remain at the club after the season.
Milan, meanwhile, can dream of an eighth title in Europe’s elite club competition.
Only Real Madrid, with 14 titles, have been European champions more times than Milan.
Few expect Stefano Pioli’s team to break its drought in this series.zone, but it goes into the last eight after determined play in defense conquered Tottenham’s attack, which lacked ideas.
Although the finish was exciting,the rest of the game provided few chances for either side.
Tottenham came into the game after upsetting defeats to second-division Sheffield United in the FA Cup and Wolverhampton in the Premier League.
Although Conte’s return was supposed to provide a boost, there was little sign of it, as Spurs barely troubled Milan in the first half.
Kane’s deflected shot, which Maignan had to block at the near post, was the hosts’ best chance before the break.
Conte vented his frustration by receiving a yellow card for a caution for Clement Lengle’s first-half suspension, shortly after Romero received his first warning.
Tottenham’s intensity increased in the second half, but Diaz threatened to increase Milan’s lead, forcing Fraser Forster to make a save with his feet shortly after the restart.
Then Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was stopped by Maignan after a break into the penalty area.
Spurs continued to struggle to create chances and their task became more difficult when Romero fouled Theo Hernandez and was suspended for a second yellow card in the 78th minute.
With only one goal separating the teams, there was always the possibility of drama in the end.
Kane was close to providing it with his powerful header, which Maignan deflected off the line.