AC Milan will travel to North London next month with a slender advantage in their UEFA Champions League (UCL) round of 16 tie with Tottenham Hotspur after Brahim Díaz’s early goal guided the Rossoneri to their first-ever competitive victory over Spurs.
Friday’s unconvincing yet crucial 1-0 win over Torino ended a miserable seven-game winless run for Milan who were making their first appearance in the UCL knockout rounds in nine years.
They marked their long-awaited return to the last 16 with a goal inside seven minutes despite Fraser Forster, who was playing his first UCL game since 2013, doing his utmost to keep the hosts at bay.
After conceding 18 goals in seven games across all competitions in January, Milan boss Stefano Pioli has switched to a back three in recent games, and their newfound resilience was stifling Tottenham’s attacking efforts.
With Milan’s rearguard remaining watertight, Pape Matar Sarr attempted to mark his first UCL appearance with an ambitious long-range effort, which was comfortably gathered by Tătărușanu.
As it proved, an attritional first leg failed to produce another goal, ensuring the tie remains on a knife-edge.
Pioli can celebrate the fact his first UCL knockout game as manager ended in a victory, while consecutive defeats will be a slight concern for Spurs manager Antonio Conte on his return to the San Siro..