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Resolute Tottenham

Spurs survive Milan to roar into Champions League quarters

LONDON (AP) ― Tottenham kept up its impressive debut in the Champions League by ousting AC Milan on Wednesday, while Felix Magath’s future as Schalke coach remains uncertain despite the German side reaching the quarterfinals with a victory over Valencia.

Tottenham protected its 1-0 first-leg lead over seven-time European champion Milan by holding the Serie A leaders to a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane.

“It’s a great achievement for this club to be in the last eight,” Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. “It’s amazing what the players have done.”

After drawing 1-1 in Spain, Schalke came from behind to beat Valencia 3-1.

Jefferson Farfan’s 40th-minute free kick canceled out Ricardo Costa’s opener for Valencia and Mario Gavranovic put the German side in front at the start of the second half. Farfan netted again in stoppage time.

Schalke went into the match amid reports the board will end Magath’s contract at the end of the season.

“It doesn’t interest us, and it shouldn’t interest us. The truth was plain to see on the field,” Magath, who is under contract until the end of the 2012-13 season, said after the game. “I plan to continue my work until 2013.”
Tottenham’s Rafael Van der Vaart (center) attempts a shot on goal against AC Milan. (AP-Yonhap News)
Tottenham’s Rafael Van der Vaart (center) attempts a shot on goal against AC Milan. (AP-Yonhap News)

Since winning the trophy in 2007, Milan has been eliminated in the last-16 phase by Premier League teams in three of four seasons.

“This year something should have changed because we have played some good football apart from the first half of the first leg,” Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said through a translator. “I feel bitter, I have regrets for myself, the players and the club.”

Milan’s best chance was in the 25th minute, when Alexandre Pato rounded goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and crossed to Robinho, whose shot glanced off Benoit Assou-Ekotto and was cleared off the goal line by William Gallas.

Tottenham struggled to find the space to provide any threat. Rafael van der Vaart shot wide after two minutes, sent a free kick over on the half-hour and fired a low shot at Christian Abbiati ― Tottenham’s only shot on target.

But Spurs clung on to advance further in their first appearance in Europe’s top competition since the 1961-62 season when they reached the semifinals.

“It’s a huge night for us,” said Tottenham forward Peter Crouch, who scored in the first leg. “We defended magnificently. We had to dig in and defend from the front, and we deserved it over the two legs.”

Although Schalke has had an inconsistent season in the Bundesliga and is only 10th, it is also in the final of the German Cup and has now reached the Champions League quarterfinals for the second time since 2008 when it was ousted by Barcelona.

Costa headed Valencia ahead, connecting with a cross from Mehmet Topal, who easily shook off Joel Matip.

But the equalizer came when Farfan curled in a free kick from 18 meters after Gavranovic had been brought down.

“We tried to play attacking football from the start but we were tense,” Magath said. “After falling behind, we had nothing to lose.”

Gavranovic put Schalke ahead after a cross from Peer Kluge was poorly cleared by goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. Farfan picked up the ball and shot at the goal, Guaita dropped it and Gavranovic pounced. The ball bounced off the inside of the post and across the line.

Farfan struck again four minutes into stoppage time, chipping the ball past Guaita into the far corner to finish off another counterattack.