Diaz gives Milan slender advantage against Tottenham

(Reuters) – AC Milan took a step towards their first Champions League quarter-final appearance for 11 years as Brahim Diaz’s goal gave the Italians a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in their last-16 first leg at the San Siro on Tuesday.

The Spaniard headed in a rebound in the seventh minute after a superb double save by Tottenham’s second-choice keeper Fraser Forster and the seven-time winners kept the Londoners at bay. Spurs, weakened by injuries and suspensions, responded positively in the first half to dominate possession but were unable to seriously worry the hosts.

Milan should have increased their advantage after the break with substitute Charles De Ketelaere and defender Malick Thiaw wasting glorious headed chances.

Tottenham sent on Brazil forward Richarlison for the last 20 minutes and, while they were unable to avoid a first-ever defeat by Milan, they will head home still hopeful of turning the tie around and reaching the last eight. “It wasn’t hard to prepare this game tactically, with all the duels, but I am very happy with how my players performed,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said.

“We could have scored a second goal — we had some clear chances. I am happy with the performance but it’s only the first leg and the next game will be surely more difficult.”

Milan’s record against Premier League clubs has been lamentable in recent years with only one win in 17 ahead of their clash with Antonio Conte’s Spurs side.