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By Sam Lyon
2225: So, while the 4,500 travelling Tottenham fans continue to party the night away in the upper reaches of the San Siro - what an unbelievable night they must be enjoying - it's time for me to take my leave. A memorable win for Harry Redknapp's side, then... but it is, of course, only half-time in the tie. It's all set up for a barn-stormer at White Hart Lane on 9 March, though, isn't it? Elsewhere, it was honours even between Valencia and Schalke, Newcastle secured a precious three points away at Birmingham in the Premier League, and there was more incident than you could shake a stick at in the Championship and Leagues One and Two too. Plenty for Wednesday to live up to, then, and in
we have another stunner for us to look forward to. I can't wait. See you then, people.
AC MILAN 0-1 TOTTENHAM Mandeep Sanghera
reports: "AC Milan skipper Gennaro Gattusso's antics might threaten to grab the headlines but Tottenham should be given plenty of credit for their display in beating the Serie A leaders at the San Siro. Absolutely superb."
VALENCIA 1-1 SCHALKE 04 Les Roopanarine reports: "Who writes these scripts? By half-time, and after surviving a couple of notable scares, Valencia had established a wave of momentum that looked likely to sweep them to victory. Then Raul came along and, with one flash of his left foot, Schalke were level and Pippo Inzaghi had been eclipsed as Uefa's all-time leading goalscorer. Who said there's no such as destiny?"
BIRMINGHAM 0-2 NEWCASTLE Saj Chowdhury
reports: "A deserved win for Newcastle and, whisper this, they may now begin to focus on a European spot challenge. Birmingham's only way into Europe appears to be through the Carling Cup. They'll be hoping that's not coupled with relegation."
ARIS SALONIKA 0-0 MAN CITY Mike Henson reports: "A rather miserable Greek adventure for City as Edin Dzeko toiled in vain up front, but they will fancy their chance of swatting aside Aris back on home turf."
2207: Another super night of football then, yes? Let's hear from our match reporters...
calummeston1 on Twitter:
"To whoever made the tweet about the Crouch, Ibrahamovic comparison earlier. You're 100% spot on."
Anon via text: "That's why we love the Champions League - and we've still got Barca v Arsenal tomorrow. Can't wait!"
2205: Apparently, by the way, Mathieu Flamini went into the Tottenham dressing room at the end to apologise for his tackle on Vedran Corluka. I'm not sure that's going to repair the Croatian's leg, but fair play to him for that.
Football League Danny: "League Two results: Aldershot 2-2 Lincoln City; Bury 1-1 Chesterfield; Northampton 3-3 Morecambe; Rotherham 2-0 Accrington; Southend 3-2 Wycombe; Stevenage 0-0 Oxford; Torquay 1-0 Burton. No win in five now for Chesterfield - but they're still five points clear with a game in hand on Shrewsbury in second and Rotherham in third - although the Millers did themselves no harm with their win. Wycombe's defeat was a missed opportunity and they're in fourth."
Ryan, Newcastle via text: "Proud of the lads today, much needed win after five games without."
aidanrad on Twitter:
"Spurs played with shape & verve while refusing to be provoked by comical violence & toy-tossing. Notice Joe Jordan took off his specs, at the end mind..."
2159: Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp: "What a performance from us. We stood tall to a man, Sandro, Steven Pienaar, Michael Dawson, Heurelho Gomes... I could go on. I said to the lads, too, at half time to get it to Aaron Lennon whenever we could because he tore the left-back apart all night - and his role in the goal was fantastic. It's a great night for the fans and a great night for Tottenham. They lost their heads at the end there - they were rattled for sure - and I guess that's a good sign. I know who I'd pick between Joe Jordan and Gennaro Gattuso anyway... Joe all night long. All night long."
Football League Danny: "League One results: Hartlepool 2-1 Charlton; MK Dons 2-3 Leyton Orient; Notts County 2-0 Colchester; Oldham 0-1 Carlisle; Tranmere 3-0 Sheff Weds; Walsall 1-0 Dag & Red; Yeovil 0-2 Peterborough. Game of the night probably at Stadium MK where Leyton Orient continued their transformation from struggling so-and-sos to play-off hopefuls. Significant result could be at Walsall, who are now up to 22nd after their win against Dagenham & Redbridge. Yeovil slipping dangerously low after their Posh loss."
2153: Tottenham striker Peter Crouch: "It was a great game to play in and I think we thoroughly deserved it. We defended manfully and created chances, this is a great result for us. The job's far from finished because they are a great team, but we are full of confidence as you can expect and at White Hart Lane we feel we can bet anyone." Aaron Lennon: "We were pinned back in the second half but we always knew we could hit them on the break and get an away goal. We feel we're strong enough to get further, definitely, and we're loving being in the Champions League."
opc100 on Twitter:
"According to Google translate, bad loser in Italian is, in fact, Gattuso. Interesting."
Football League Danny: "So, here's your Championship wrap. Cardiff 1-1 Burnley. That means QPR are five points clear of the Bluebirds at the top of the Championship. Burnley still in the play-off mix. Doncaster 0-6 Ipswich. Resounding win for the Tractor Boys - and Connor Wickham won't be putting off any potential suitors with a hat-trick. Huge thumping for Donny. Ouch. Watford 2-2 Preston. Preston still looking for first win under Phil Brown, they were 2-0 up. They stay bottom. Sheff Utd 1-1 Reading. Battling draw for Blades, but they stay in the bottom three."
Andy, Essex via text: "Gattuso is a disgrace! Hopefully Uefa punish him for what has been utterly awful behaviour on his part."
2145: Let's not let that distract from a sensational Tottenham result, though, for they deserve all the credit in the world for a super display and a super result tonight. They're massively in the driving seat going into the second leg of their last-16 clash now - and who would've thought they could take a win and a clean sheet away from the San Siro tonight? Not many I'd wager, not many.
2142: Wowzers. AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has gone mad. The Italian greets the final whistle by marching straight over to assistant Tottenham coach Joe Jordan and head-butting him. Incredible. The two benches clash as a result as Gattuso is pulled away, but still he tries to get at the Tottenham bench. Absolutely staggering. What's the Italian for bad loser?
2141: FULL-TIME Birmingham 0-2 Newcastle
2141: FULL-TIME AC Milan 0-1 Tottenham
2140: Unbelievable! AC Milan frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovc thinks he's snatched a dramatic equaliser at the very death with a brilliant overhead kick... but the official's flag is raised for a foul on Michael Dawson in the box. It's a great decision, too. What drama.
2138: FULL-TIME Valencia 1-1 Schalke 04
2138: Tottenham continue to hold on at the San Siro - but is this a Milan rally brewing?
Red card: Schalke defender Lukas Schmitz sees red for a second yellow card, and he'll now miss the return leg at the Gelsenkirchen Stadium.
2137: RED CARD, Lukas Schmitz, Schalke 04.
2136: Four minutes of added time to be played at the San Siro.
Football League Danny: "Wow. Connor Wickham completes a hat-trick, latest from the Keepmoat is now Doncaster 0-6 Ipswich. Speaking (phonetically) of Wycombe - they find themselves 3-2 down at Southend, Craig Easton with a potential winner for the Shrimpers."
2135: Zlatan Ibrahimovic tries his luck at goal, but it's way off target from the Milan frontman.
2133: Into the last two minutes at St Andrew's - and despite a series of chances after going 2-0 down, Birmingham look like they're going to come away from this match with absolutely zero.
Football League Danny: "Northampton 3-3 Morecambe. Officially a thriller. Sheff Utd 1-1 Reading. Penalty-styled leveller for the Blades."
2132: This really is quality possession football from Tottenham at the moment. When did Harry Redknapp's side become such cool European veterans?
Football League Danny: "Goals. Big goals. Cardiff 1-1 Burnley. Steven Thompson with the goal they'll be celebrating all the way from Nottingham to Shepherd's Bush. Sheff Utd 0-1 Reading, Shane Long with the goal, more misery for the Blades? Walsall 1-0 Dag & Red - big League One relegation strike. Tranmere 3-0 Sheff Wed - emphatic. Also, Oldham 0-1 Carlisle. And Yeovil 0-1 Peterborough. Up to date."
2128: Around 10 minutes of normal time for Tottenham to hang on here, then, but what a stunning result this would be for them. Hard to say they wouldn't deserve it, either...
Tottenham goal: Out of nothing and Tottenham lead. It's brilliant from Aaron Lennon on the counter-attack, surging from inside his own half, dancing around Mario Yepes and laying in Peter Crouch to stroke home a priceless away goal in the San Siro.
2126: GOALFLASH AC Milan 0-1 Tottenham (Crouch)
Football League Danny: "Adam Thompson has levelled for Watford who are now 2-2 with Preston, having been 2-0 down. Meanwhile, Leyton Orient - my new unstoppable football machine (sorry Chesterfield) - now lead 3-2 at MK Dons with Jonathan Tehoue netting the O's third."
2123: Another headed chance for Birmingham at St Andrew's, but this time Steve Harper is firmly behind Roger Johnson's header from a corner. Newcastle hanging on to their two-goal lead.
2122: Gennaro Gattuso goes into the book for what the referee deems a foul on Steven Pienaar (looked to me like he got the ball) and that means he will miss the return leg at White Hart Lane. Niko Kranjcar is on for Steven Pienaar.
2121: Approaching the last 15 minutes at the San Siro, and it's time for Niko Krancjar for Tottenham. The visitors definitely need someone on to put their foot on the ball out there.
2117: Great chance for Birmingham to get back in it against Newcastle, but Nikola Zigic heads over unmarked from eight yards from Liam Ridgewell's excellent cross from the left.
2115: Gennaro Gattuso is more fired up than the surface of planet Mercury on a mid-summer's day at the moment - and while he has succeeded in firing up his AC Milan team-mates and crowd, he's treading a fine line with the referee at present.
Football League Danny: "Goals. Watford's Matthew Whichelow scores to make it 1-2 at home to Preston - tense finish. Leon McKenzie's penalty makes it Northampton 3-2 Morecambe in a thriller. Actually, is 3-2 a thriller? Or does it need to be at least 3-3?"
2112: It's one-way traffic in the San Siro now - and AC Milan are the team in control. Tottenham and the football are practically strangers in this half. Still more than 20 minutes to go.
Football League Danny: "Team performance of the night so far? Spurs, drawing in Milan? Meh. How about Ipswich, who now lead Doncaster 5-0 at the Keepmoat Stadium, Gareth McAuley with the fifth. Still 25 minutes to go..."
2110: Newcastle look comfortable now. Birmingham have brought on Cameron Jerome as a replacement for former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins who found it difficult to get into the match. Blues need a goal soon. Goalscorer Peter Lovenkrands, meanwhile, has just gone off with what looks like a hamstring injury - Newcastle need another injury to a striker like a hole in the head, don't they?
2109: Change for Tottenham, Luka Modric coming on to replace Rafael van der Vaart.
Schalke goal: True to the script, Raul duly claims the goal which takes him past AC Milan's Filippo Inzaghi as Uefa's all-time leading goalscorer on 71, latching on to Jose Manuel Jurado's cross from the left, shaking off the attentions of David Navarro, and slotting home from eight yards to pull Schalke level.
2107: GOALFLASH Valencia 1-1 Schalke 04 (Raul)
2106: Brilliant again from Heurelho Gomes, the Tottenham keeper saving at point-blank range from Mario Yepes's header from a corner. AC Milan enjoying by far their best spell of the match at the moment and looking by far the likelier to open the scoring at the San Siro.
Football League Danny: "Sorry equaliser fans (see 2101). Southend fans won't mind though, as Kane Ferdinand has made it Southend 2-1 Wycombe. More goals - Tranmere 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday, Lateef Elford-Alliyu with the goal. Connor Wickham's notched another and it's now 4-0 for Ipswich at Doncaster (crikey). And Rotherham are 1-0 up on Accrington."
2105: My word, it's all getting very spicy at the San Siro - and Gennaro Gattuso has just pushed Spurs assistant coach Joe Jordan in the face on the touchlines! Well well well.
2104: Vedran Corluka is going to have to go off here as a result of that Mathieu Flamini challenge - and Jonathan Woodgate will be his replacement, on his first appearance for Tottenham since November 2009.
Football League Danny: "Equaliser fans will probably say 'cor' when they hear of Barry Corr's leveller for Southend against Wycombe to make it 1-1. And they'll add 'eck' when they hear of Nathan Eccleston's parity-restorer for Charlton at Hartlepool. That's 1-1 also."
2101: Oof. Mathieu Flamini is lucky to escape a red there, going in two-footed on Vedran Corluka and getting away with a yellow card. And it looks like Corluka is in big trouble here.
2100: It's on target from Rafael van der Vaart, but the Tottenham playmaker's 25-yard free-kick is all too easily held by Milan keeper Marco Amelia.
2058: AC Milan already looking far more dangerous in this half, with Robinho getting on the ball a lot more in the deep-lying striker role than Clarence Seedorf managed in the first. Tottenham with some work to do defensively here.
Football League Danny: "Yeah alright (see 2028). Turns out Chesterfield might be a stoppable football machine. Ryan Lowe's equalised for Bury against them, see, and it's 1-1. Well done you lot."
2056: Stunning stop. Heurelho Gomes has to be at his very best to turn Mario Yepes's firm header from Gennaro Gattuso's cross over the bar - and the Brazilian really was at full stretch there. Excellent.
Newcastle goal: Jonas Gutierrez is the provider again. This time he delivers the ball to the far post for Leon Best who out-jumps Roger Johnson to nod in from three yards.
2055: GOALFLASH Birmingham 0-2 Newcastle (Best)
2054: Deary me, that's almost glorious from Rafael van der Vaart, the Dutchman collecting Aaron Lennon's cut-back, spinning and clipping a delighful chip at goal from the edge of the area that drifts a mere inch past the post. Almost brilliant.
2053: Early indications are that Robinho will drop in to the hole behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pato up top.
2051: It'll be Clarence Seedorf replaced by Pato. Attacking from AC Milan. And the hosts restart us, the second half up and running now.
2050: We're back under way at the Mestalla Stadium and St Andrew's... the players are emerging from the tunnel at San Siro.
2048: Yep, Pato is going to make an appearance for Milan - that should give Tottenham something to think about.
2045: The consensus is that AC Milan are under-performing - to say the least - tonight. So what changes can they make? Alexandre Pato can't be far away from an appearance, surely?
Joe, London, via text: "Watching this you can't help feeling that Spurs are just a top quality striker away from being a real force in Europe. Dominance."
2039: HALF-TIME Valencia 1-0 Schalke 04 Les Roopanarine's HT snap-shot: "With Klaas-Jan Huntelaar missing a sitter and Peer Kluge hitting the bar, Schalke have done everything but score. However, Valencia have gone from strength to strength since their opener and are in control."
oliverhj84 on Twitter:
"Has nobody told Milan there's an away leg? As a Gooner it pains me to say this but unless they score early in second half they're out!"
2038: HALF-TIME Birmingham 0-1 Newcastle Saj Chowdhury's
HT snap-shot: "Taking into account the torrential rain and the worsening pitch, this hasn't been too bad. Newcastle did well to grab the early lead in what was the best football played of the half. Lots of life left in this one though."
2036: HALF-TIME AC Milan 0-0 Tottenham Mandeep Sanghera's
HT snap-shot: "AC Milan are the Italian league leaders? Really? They have been poor but, despite Tottenham looking more than comfortable in the cauldron that is the San Siro tonight, the visitors have failed to capitalise."
Football League Danny: "Big goal. Michael Chopra has given Cardiff the lead against Burnley. The Bluebirds move within three points of Championship leaders QPR if they win tonight. Yer other Champo HT scores are Doncaster 0-3 Ipswich, Sheffield United 0-0 Reading and Watford 0-2 Preston."
2034: And now it's half-time at St Andrew's.
2033: The half-time whistle goes at the San Siro - as it has at the Mestalla Stadium.
2032: Is that Milan's first shot on goal? If it even counts as a shot on goal, Robinho slicing well wide of the Tottenham goal left-footed from the angle.
2031: Two minutes of first-half stoppage time to be played at the San Siro, four at St Andrew's.
Football League Danny: "Goal frenzy. Ipswich are 3-0 up at Doncaster thanks to Connor Wickham. And Preston are 2-0 up at Watford - could they get a third away win of the season? By the way, I'm picking up a lot of anti-Chesterfield heat for my 'unstoppable football machine' chat at 2011 GMT. Piffle, I'm sticking by my words, and you haters can
eat my League Two table."
2028: Boom - and now Rafael van der Vaart smashes a rising effort at goal that Milan keeper Marco Amelia has to turn over the bar. Tottenham bossing this match still.
2027: Another fine run from Aaron Lennon down the right - he has beaten Milan left-back Luca Antonini all night - but his cross is wayward.
2024: There's a chance for Craig Gardner, though, the Birmingham midfielder thrashing high and wide from the edge of the area after a nice lay-off from Sebastien Larsson.
2023: The conditions are worsening on a soggy St Andrew's pitch which is resulting in misplaced passes and mistimed tackles. Former Magpie Obafemi Martins is doing his best to get into the game, but maybe tonight will not be his night.
2021: Milan doing a lot better at stopping the Tottenham crosses in the last few minutes, and as a result Peter Crouch is looking a touch isolated. Substitute keeper Macro Amelia has barely had anything to deal with since his introduction.
Football League Danny: "Goals. Goals. Goals. Sam Hird only went and put through his own net to put Ipswich 1-0 up at Doncaster - and Colin Healy has just made it 2-0. That's Championship-tastic, while in League Two, Jon-Paul Pittman has given Wycombe the lead at Southend."
2017: ...Zlatan Ibrahimovic slaps it well wide, though.
2016: Half an hour gone at the San Siro and Tottenham are more than holding their own. The hosts have a free-kick 35 yards out here, though...
2013: Close to an equaliser at the Mestalla Stadium as Schalke midfielder Peer Kluge's header loops goalwards, only to be tipped on the on to the bar by keeper Vicente Guaita.
2011: Good work from Sandro - who has looked very good in the centre of Tottenham's midfield so far - as he dances into the Milan box and lays it back to Steven Pienaar, but the South African opts to pass instead of shoot and the chance is gone almost before it arrives. Would Niko Kranjcar have put his foot through that?
Football League Danny: "Some good news for Craig fans. Craig Westcarr has put Notts County 1-0 up on Colchester. And Craig Davies has put Chesterfield 1-0 up at Bury. I'm starting to wonder if the Spireites are, in fact, something of an unstoppable footballing machine?"
2008: That's the best AC Milan have looked going forward as Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets free on the left of the Tottenham box, and his cross has to be scrambled away by keeper Heurelho Gomes on the stretch in the visitors' goal.
2006: Better again from Birmingham as Nikola Zigic forces a very smart stop from Newcastle keeper Steve Harper with a neat turn and shot from 12 yards.
Football League Danny: "Some League One cheekies for you. MK Dons go 1-0 up against in-form Leyton Orient thanks to Dean Lewington - only for Jimmy Smith to level for the O's soon after. Meanwhile Andy Monkhouse has put Hartlepool 1-0 up against play-off wannabes Charlton."
2005: Chance for Birmingham. Seb Larsson delivers a free-kick from the right to the far post, but Birmingham team-mate Roger Johnson heads wide from six yards.
2004: AC Milan are going to be forced into a change here, with keeper Christian Abbiati replaced because of a head injury, Marco Amelia the man to replace him in the home goal. The Peter Crouch effect has already had an impact.
Valencia goal: Breakthrough for Valencia, Aritz Aduriz releasing Jeremy Matheiu down the left and the full-back crossing for Roberto Soldado to poke home at the near post inside the six-yard area.
2003: GOALFLASH Valencia 1-0 Schalke 04 (Soldado)
2001: Spurs' tactics are hardly subtle going forward, but darn have they been troublesome for AC Milan so far. Either the Londoners are getting it to Aaron Lennon, who is causing all sorts of problems with his pace down the right, or pumping it to Peter Crouch, who is winning practically everything in the box. AC Milan just struggling to get grips on the ball at present.
1958: Chance at the Mestalla. Perhaps waiting for an offside decision that never came, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has just missed an absolute sitter for Schalke, barely making contact at all from all of six yards out with not a defender in sight. Waste.
1957: Now Tottenham burst and Vedran Corluka releases Aaron Lennon down the right, whose cross causes all sorts of problems in the AC box before the hosts clear. Very good game in the San Siro, very good.
1956: Warning signs from AC Milan now, Robinho flicking through the Tottenham defence to apparently release Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the edge of the Tottenham box - his shot is blocked by William Gallas and he is flagged offside - but replay suggest he was on. Close.
1954: On the back of that lightning start, Newcastle continue to dominate proceedings at what looks a slippery surface at St Andrew's. Birmingham still very much feeling their way into the match.
Football League Danny: "Never mind Peter Lovenkrands (see 1948) - he's positively sloth-like compared to the lightning starters of Championship rock-bottomers Preston. Sean St Ledger has put the Lillywhites 1-0 up at Watford after just 39 (count 'em) of your English seconds."
1950: Tottenham making all the early running at the San Siro - it's a fine start from the Londoners - and Peter Crouch, already, is causing problems for the Milan defence. Encouraging signs for Spurs, but it's very early doors.
1948: Massive decision early in proceedings at the San Siro - and referee Stephane Lannoy has got it wrong, for me. Tottenham playmaker Rafael van der Vaart fires in an early cross which appears to be blocked by the arm of Alessandro Nesta inside the box - but Lannoy says no penalty. That looked clear and deliberate on the replay, and AC Milan might just have got away with one in the opening couple of minutes.
Newcastle goal: What a start for Newcastle, Peter Lovenkrands stealing in at the near post to tap in Jonas Gutierrez's precise cross from the left to hand the visitors the lead inside 95 seconds.
1945: Spurs skipper Michael Dawson has won the pre-match toss - an omen or the last thing Tottenham will win this evening do we think?
1943: Tottenham and AC Milan make their way out into the cauldron of the San Siro - what an occasion this is - and the atmosphere is now hotter than a mid-summer's day on the planet Mercury, when there's no clouds and 100% humidity. In other words, hot. The players are out at the Mestalla Stadium, too, as they are at St Andrew's for the Birmingham-Newcastle match. We're moments away from the start. Man, I'm excited.
Kiya, chilly San Siro via text: "The tense atmosphere here is palpable,Sam: sitting with the Milan fans and they're scared of Van De Vaart's threat but reckon the form of Ibrahimovic will decide the match."
1940: Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp: "Rafael van der Vaart and Peter Crouch have been a good pair for me this season, that's why they got the nod. It was a difficult one [picking Steven Pienaar instead of Niko Kranjcar]. Niko has done great of late and he will be on at some stage, [but] I just thought Steven has more defensive qualities. I'm looking for a good performance this evening - and we just want to make sure we are still in the game when we go to Tottenham. It's no good standing off them, we have to play high-tempo football and that's what we'll set out to do."
1938: AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri: "I think Tottenham scored the highest number of goals in the group stage, they are very strong in attack. But they conceded several goals as well." AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic: "We have a big advantage in that we have many players who have won the Champions League a couple of times, they have lots of experience that gives you calm and tranquility in the team."
1936: I'm telling you, a listen to the atmosphere that is building in the San Siro is making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up a touch, I won't lie. Nigh-on 80,000 in situ, so I'm told, and every one of them is making themselves heard. Of that, 4,500 are supposed to be Spurs - though I'll bet a fair few more than that are in the stands tonight. Make no mistake, this is massive for both AC Milan and Tottenham. Massive.
noonen7 on Twitter:
"Niko [Kranjcar] can still be a big bomb as a late sub. I am sure that eventually Harry [Redknapp] will give Kranjcar his shot in Champions League."
1934: A quick word on Schalke 04 frontman Raul, who returns to Spain for the first time tonight since leaving Real Madrid after 741 appearances for the club. Should the striker score, it would take him above AC Milan's Filippo Inzaghi as Uefa's all-time leading goalscorer, the pair currently tied with 70 goals each. Keep an eye on that one, folks.
Football League Danny: "Intrigue at both ends of the Championship tonight. Cardiff can move within three points of leaders QPR with a win at home to play-off chasing Burnley. Speaking of top-six hopefuls, Watford have wobbled of late, but have games in hand on the teams above them and will hope to return to winning ways against rock-bottom Preston. Struggling Sheffield United will be desperate to climb out of the bottom three with a win over Reading, while Doncaster host Ipswich in the match they haven't dubbed 'the battle for 14th place'."
theworld90 on Twitter:
"Fed up with all the Zlatan Ibrahimovic bashing! Best striker in the world at the moment.. and he'll prove it tonight."
1930: People, I need a manual refresh on this page for all your video and radio links to magically appear at the top and right-hand side if you will. Muchos appreciado.
1928: AC MILAN v TOTTENHAM Mandeep Sanghera
reports: "It's the San Siro, the Champions League last-16 knockout stage and the entertainers Tottenham up against seven-time winners of Europe's top trophy in AC Milan. The words mouth and watering come to mind. Spurs are the joint leading scorers in this season's competition with 18 goals but face a Milan side unbeaten in 10 and top of Serie A. In the only previous meeting between the pair Spurs beat Milan in a Uefa Cup semi-final before going on to win the competition in 1972."
mjdasilva on Twitter:
"Monumental night for Spurs at the San Siro. Absence of Bale & Modric could hurt & lack of pace in defence a real worry vs Pato, Robinho etc."
1923: BIRMINGHAM v NEWCASTLE Saj Chowdhury
reports: "Champions League, Shampions League - St Andrew's is where it's at... if you're a Birmingham or Newcastle fan. The Premier League has spoilt its followers with strange scenarios of late - and this fixture is no exception. If Newcastle win they go almost within touching distance of a possible European spot, but if the formerly relegation-threatened Blues take all three points then they'll leapfrog their opponents. Blues have drawn 12 matches this season, while the Magpies have drawn four of their last five. I'll stick my neck out and predict a draw."
AtomicTed on Twitter:
"Will Spurs go into a meltdown like the last time at the San Siro? And this time Bale won't be able to save them!"
Football League Danny: "The rain has reduced our programme of nine League One matches to seven tonight. The intriguing battle between Bristol Rovers and Bournemouth has gone as has Exeter v Swindon. Plenty remains though, including a relegation tussle as Walsall (23rd) host Dagenham & Redbridge (22nd) in the match they haven't dubbed 'a right royal relegation mix up fix up'. Keep yer eyes on Leyton Orient tonight too - the O's lost 5-0 to Brighton on New Year's Day and haven't lost since, scoring a bagful, and they'll be will up for a bit of seventh-placed MK Dons tonight and no mistake."
1919: I can tell you, by the way, that despite the fact it is teeming it down with rain at the San Siro, the AC Milan faithful sound like they are bang up for this tie. Top of Serie A and hot on form, the Italian giants are widely expected in their homeland to deal with this Tottenham side with relative comfort. Can the Londoners overcome the odds and the expectations? It wouldn't be the first time... Any Spurs fans out there who'd bite my hand off for a draw, though?
lordwinco on Twitter:
"Van der Vaart is back. Ready to show Ibrahamovic who is the boss." Not the best of friends those two, to say the least, following their time together at Ajax. Expect some feeling between those two tonight people...
1916: You know what, our own European blogger Phil Minshull is impressed by what's been going on at the San Siro this season. Having expected Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho to be a divisive influence at AC Milan this season, he's been forced to rethink after some
pretty impressive work by the duo and their team.
He is a big enough man to admit when he's wrong though and, for that, I applaud and respect him. Top stuff from our man, that.
harryengland on Twitter:
"Worried about Redknapp: Pienaar's had no impact since joining and Kranjcar is on form at the mo, stop choosing your favourites!"
1914: VALENCIA v SCHALKE 04 Les Roopanarine reports: "Since relinquishing a first-half lead to draw 1-1 at Old Trafford in early December, a result that cost them top spot in Group C, Valencia have been virtually unstoppable. They've lived dangerously at times, a habit of scoring late goals threatening to send manager Unai Emery into meltdown, but, after nine league games unbeaten, they are third in La Liga. Schalke, however, are also in fine fettle domestically, with five wins from their last eight games. What's more, they can also call upon the services of former Real Madrid striker Raul, a frequent tormentor of Valencia down the years. The outcome tonight? Too tight to call."
1911: BIRMINGHAM v NEWCASTLE Saj Chowdhury
reports: "Birmingham include former Magpie and loan signing Obafemi Martins in their starting line-up - he partners Nikola Zigic once again in attack as Blues boss Alex McLeish names the same starting XI that beat Stoke at the weekend. Newcastle's new signing Shefki Kuqi once again starts from the bench, with the visitors also unchanged."
Sam, bored at the station, via text: "Is it sad that the only game I'm excited about is Birmingham v Newcastle? This is a big game in the mid-table battle!"
Football League Danny: "(Deep breath) League Two high-fliers Chesterfield could go seven points clear with a win at Bury tonight, although the Shakers could move within a point of third-placed Wycombe if they win, subject to the Chairboys not getting a result themselves against Southend who could close on Oxford if they triumph at Roots Hall, if the U's don't beat Stevenage. I will be testing you all on this at full-time."
1905: Tough luck on Niko "two winners in two games" Kranjcar, who drops to the Tottenham bench following two arguable man-of-the-match performances of late then, but Harry Redknapp clearly believes Steven Pienaar is the more secure defensive option. According to Jamie Redknapp on Sky, his dad Harry told him only two hours ago Kranjcar would start - a late gut feeling change from the Tottenham boss?
1902: AC MILAN v TOTTENHAM (1945) Mandeep Sanghera reports: "So Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon replaces Niko Kranjcar in his side's starting line-up following
their 2-1 win at Sunderland
on Saturday. Strikers Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko also make way for forward Peter Crouch and holding midfielder Wilson Palacios. Luka Modric is only fit enough for the bench on his return from an appendix operation for a Spurs side without the injured Gareth Bale. AC Milan midfielder Mathieu Flamini and forward Robinho start with recent January signings Mark van Bommel and Antonio Cassano, who played in the 4-0 win over Parma on Saturday, ineligible. Andrea Pirlo is missing for the Italians having suffered knee ligament damage last Friday.
jay_unadkat on Twitter:
"Just got to work and haven't even checked my emails yet, straight on #BBCfootball website - loveeee European football nights!"
1856: AC MILAN v TOTTENHAM (1945) AC Milan: Abbiati, Abate, Nesta, Yepes, Antonini, Gattuso, Thiago Silva, Flamini, Seedorf, Robinho, Ibrahimovic. Subs: Amelia, Alexandre Pato, Papastathopoulos, Oddo, Jankulovski, Merkel, Legrottaglie. Tottenham: Gomes, Corluka, Gallas, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Sandro, Pienaar, Van der Vaart, Crouch. Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Modric, Defoe, Bassong, Kranjcar, Woodgate. Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France)
1855: So, all in all, a pretty tame affair in Thessaloniki - but with a veritable feast of football still to come, don't even think that's set the tone for a dull night of football. For a start, who fancies a look at tonight's Champions League line-ups?
1852: TEAM NEWS SNAP Obafemi Martins starts Birmingham City against his former club Newcastle, who start with Shefki Kuqi on the bench again.
1850: TEAM NEWS SNAP The reports were wrong, people, Niko Kranjcar does NOT start for Tottenham against AC Milan - Steven Pienaar keeps his place in the side, and Kranjcar drops to the bench to accommodate Aaron Lennon's returns. It is Rafael van der Vaart and Peter Crouch up front, though, with Luka Modric, Jonathan Woodgate and Jermain Defoe on the bench.
1849: FULL-TIME Aris Salonika 0-0 Man City
1848: Two minutes of added time in Greece.
1846: ...and it's a good delivery from Aleksandar Kolarov and Micah Richards - rising on the edge of the six-yard box - should do better than glance it wide. Shame.
1846: A minute of normal time remaining... corner to Man City...
1843: Well, it's not quite Wayne Rooney (sorry Man City fans) but it's half decent from Mario Balotelli, the Italian flicking Jerome Boateng's pass up inside the box and attempting an overhead kick - his effort flying wide from 16 yards, though.
1841: Is this Man City boss Roberto Mancini settling for the draw? Pablo Zabaleta comes on for striker Edin Dzeko.
1839: Aannnnddd... you're back in the room. TV pictures return. Just in time to witness yet another strange decision from Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco that goes against Man City. More than a few of his decisions tonight have been, shall we say, a touch bizarre.
1836: Ah... erm... much like the rest of the watching public I'm guessing, I've lost TV pictures. That could make commentating on the last 10 minutes a touch trickier, I won't lie. Still, I am nothing if not professional...
1833: Mario Balotelli is coming on for Man City, Shaun Wright-Phillips the man replaced.
1830: Around 75 minutes until AC Milan-Tottenham kick off in the Champions League, by the way, and reports are reaching us that Rafael van der Vaart, Peter Crouch, Niko Kranjcar and Aaron Lennon all start for Spurs, with no sign of Luka Modric or Jermain Defoe in the starting XI. I'll firm that up as soon as I can.
Football League Danny: "It's hammering down in the west country, evidently. Exeter v Swindon is also off. Bad news for League One fans, but good news for fans of umbrella salesmen."
1827: Bosh. City striker Edin Dzeko, who has looked half decent without being spectacular tonight, thrashes a right-footed effort at goal from range, but it curves narrowly wide of the post with Aris keeper Michalis Sifakis apparently beaten to his left. Close.
1824: And now Michel cuts in from the left and fires goalwards right-footed - his shot blocked by the City defence.
1822: Ooh, that's not a bad effort at the other end of the pitch either - Joe Hart scrambling Neto's firm, swerving effort from wide on the right around his far post. This match starting to open up a touch.
Football League Danny: "There's too much water for the Pirates! Tonight's League One fixture between Bristol Rovers and Bournemouth is OFF because of a waterlogged pitch..."
1820: Smashing save! And it's Aris keeper Michalis Sifakis with the heroics, tipping over Edin Dzeko's firm header from Gareth Barry's pin-point cross. The closest we've come to a goal, that.
1819: Juan Carlos Toja - great name, not been too involved much tonight - has a pop with his left foot 25 yards out, but again it's straight at Joe Hart. The hosts might want to start aiming their shots either side of the Man City keeper. Just a thought.
1815: Aris free-kick, 25 yards out, Neto has a go again - but it's limp and straight at Joe Hart, who could've thrown his hat on it if he was wearing one. Or, indeed, if that were legal. Instead, he calmly grabs it with his hands. Wise.
1814: Hhmm, should do better there Shaun Wright-Phillips, the winger receiving Edin Dzeko's pass on the edge of the area, turning inside the defender well... and then slapping a weak left-foot shot straight at the keeper.
1811: The merest hint of heightened ambition from Aris continues at the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium but still City stand firm. Not quite as much joy going forward from the hosts so far in this half, though.
1808: That's a decent chance for Ricardo Faty, but the Aris midfielder can't get enough on his unmarked header 12 yards out and the opportunity goes awry. Not the best defending from City there.
1806: Aris pressing for a spell now, and City are having to defend deep to repel the hosts' increased ambition. Something Roberto Mancini's side are more than adept at for the most part these days.
Leaver17 on Twitter:
"My girlfriend thinks I'm cheating on her because I check my phone every minute for updates. She just doesn't get it."
1803: Man City force a corner inside the first minute of the half... but Aris clear Aleksandar Kolarov's set-piece with ease at the near post.
1802: The second half kicks off in Thessaloniki, Aris 0-0 Man City.
1800: The players are back out and about, then, we're moments from the restart.
Tommy via text: "Bolton played Aris at home a few years back in the Uefa Cup. Most friendly and loudest fans I have witnessed at The Reebok."
1755: Talking of education (see Liam McDonagh's comment) as well as ham-fisted attempted links to fantastic initiatives,
BBC School Report
recently arranged for Charlie and Harvey from Catmose College to get inside Television Centre to see how the BBC Sport website works on a busy Saturday. And you know who they spoke to? Yep, me, the devilishly handsome
They even recorded
a video diary,
so check it out and see what you think.
1749: HALF-TIME Aris Salonika 0-0 Man City Mike Henson's HT snap-shot: "Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Shaun Wright-Phillips have been buzzing around dangerously behind Edin Dzeko, but the Greek hosts have made it through to the safety of the interval of the first leg of this last-32 tie unscathed."
Liam_McDonagh on Twitter:
"Coursework in for tomorrow. Do I sit and watch Manchester City, or just regularly check your commentary? Decisions..." You know the answer to that, fella. Not only am I brilliant (*cough*), but your education is important. Get to it.
1746: The half-time whistle blows.
1744: With half-time approaching, Carlos Tevez has half a chance to set Edin Dzeko through on goal but the Argentine's through-ball is too strong for the unmarked Bosnian to run on to. Shame. Those two have linked up well on occasion tonight, though. Encouraging.
1740: ...Neto looks to dink it into the far corner... but it drifts past the far post with Joe Hart unconcerned. Let-off for the City keeper - though I'm not entirely sure he did run the ball out of his area after watching the replay. Oh well. No harm, no foul.
1738: Corner to Aris, whipped in by Neto, but Nikos Lasaridis's header is comfortably saved by keeper Joe Hart. Then, unbelievably, as he attempts to clear from hand, the City keeper inadvertently runs the ball out of the box - or so says the linesman - and Aris have a free-kick right on the edge of the City box...
1737: You have to credit these Aris fans - they have been absolutely non-stop so far this evening. Jumping, singing, screaming. Just over 22,000 in the house tonight - and the 1,000-odd Man City fans are unsurprisingly being drowned out as a result.
1734: Corner to Man City... but it is defended well and Kolo Toure is penalised for a foul. By the way, my timings leapt forward a couple of hours for a moment, there. Confusing. Refresh please.
1730: Half hour gone, honours even, Aris 0-0 Man City.
1727: After a quiet few minutes, City snap back into life - and again, it is Carlos Tevez, dropping deep, at the heart of it, the Argentine feeding Shaun Wright-Phillips, who turns it on to Edin Dzeko to fire low at goal, Aris keeper Michalis Sifakis saving low down.
1723: City and Aris back to feeling each other out in the last few minutes, but Roberto Mancini's side will be more than happy with their display so far I reckon. They could just do with a goal their dominance has deserved, though...
mg0892 on Twitter:
"Lasers being pointed at the City players it seems. Not what we want to see." Apparently a PA announcement has been made in the ground asking for it to stop. It doesn't appear to have been heeded. You're right - not what we want to see.
1719: A rare foray into the City half from Aris ends with Daisuke Sakata firing goalwards from the left-corner of the box, but Joe Hart is able to claim the deflected effort easily.
1716: Another great opportunity and fine move from Man City as Aleksandar Kolarov feeds Edin Dzeko in the box - the Bosnian thinks he's got a clear shot on goal, but home keeper Michalis Sifakis collects the frontman's rather tame snap-shot from point-blank range. Big chance.
1713: It's all Man City, Carlos Tevez firing their latest effort well over the bar from range.
1712: Penalty shout for Man City - the visitors starting to really settle in, now - as Micah Richards receives a Carlos Tevez through-ball and bursts into the box, only for his progress to be halted by Aris defender Michel, but Spanish referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco rules the challenge was fair.
1709: Save! First attacking move of any worth from City, Carlos Tevez dropping deep to get on the ball before feeding David Silva, who turns inside his marker and forces a low save to his left from home keeper Michalis Sifakis with a pinging 20-yarder. Encouraging.
1708: First touch of note from Edin Dzeko on his City European debut as he controls the ball and looks to recycle possession inside the Aris half... but he is penalised for handball.
1707: Man City enjoying plenty of the ball in these opening exchanges, but Aris keeping their shape well with all 11 men behind the ball. I'm not sure City frontman Carlos Tevez or Edin Dzeko have even enjoyed a single meaningful touch as yet.
1704: Boos very much the order of the day for the visitors whenever they are in possession already, with Aris keen to press their opponents all over the pitch. No sign of nerves or respect from the Greek hosts in the early stages at all.
1700: Prompt start in Greece, we're up and running.
JRAsh1 on Twitter:
"Beer in hand, crisps in arms reach, pizza ordered online to be delivered at 19.30... Entertain me Europe!"
1656: The players waiting to come out in Thessaloniki, then, in what appears to be the world's longest, narrowest tunnel ever. Cosy. I'm told the temperature pitch-side is approximately eight degrees Celsius at present, so not quite stick-your-towel-down-early weather just yet. You ready?
1651: A little add-on to Mike Henson's blurb on Aris Salonkia at 1641 - the Greek side's unbeaten run at home in Uefa club competition stretches back 40 years and 24 matches. With the atmosphere at the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium already hotter than a
mid-summer's day on planet Mercury,
this will be anything but a push-over for Manchester City, I'll wager.
alexp1986 on Twitter:
"Full strength-ish City team. Lets hope we banish the memory of Saturday with a comfortable win."
1646: Aris Salonika boss Giannis Michalits: "We both want to maintain our unbeaten home record and to face a challenge such as the match with Man City. This is a match of great significance and fear will not help us beat anyone. This is why we have to do better than usual, as we have done in all our European matches."
1644: Man City manager Roberto Mancini: "Do I think we are still mentally strong [after
defeat to Man Utd
on Saturday]? I do not think that will be a problem. We played very well against United and the defeat was hard to take. But now we have another important game to focus on. We have had three days to prepare for this game and we know it will be very difficult. Aris are a good team with good players and have already beaten Atletico Madrid. But this is an important time for us and need to start a winning run. If we play like we did against United we can win a lot of games."
ambigram0 on Twitter:
"According to a wise man with a fancy hat, Tuesdays were invented purely as a day to play European football. I'd have to agree."
Brolleyhook via text: "A Man City front two with David Silva tucked in behind? Tasty."
1641: ARIS SALONIKA v MAN CITY (1700) Mike Henson reports: "After providing a derby-day backdrop to Wayne Rooney's sensational winner on Saturday, Roberto Mancini may now see winning Man City's second European trophy - after the 1970 Cup Winners' Cup - as his best chance of silverware. His side will be the first European opposition ever to beat Aris at the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium if they take a first-leg advantage, though, and the hosts have been in particularly miserly mood this campaign - not conceding a single goal en route to second place in Group B."
Mozdog9 on Twitter:
"It is going to be a truly top night. So much football... can't contain myself."
1635: ARIS SALONIKA v MAN CITY (1700) Mike Henson reports: "Jerome Boateng, Kolo Toure, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Edin Dzeko all step up from the bench into the starting XI for Man City. Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Joleon Lescott make way and are all substitute options for Roberto Mancini, but James Milner is absent with injury. On the bench for Aris is one-time City loanee Nery Castillo who made nine appearances for the club in 2008. Brazilian Neto is the hosts' leading scorer and scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over AEK Athens last time out."
1631: Plenty - and I mean plenty - of chat coming up on our later matches in due course, then, but first up is the tea-time bonanza of
Aris Salonika v Man City.
Our match reporter is Mike Henson...
Paul, a nervous Spurs fan, via text: "Can Spurs really beat AC Milan with Sandro and Wilson Palacios in midfield?! Surely not."
JamesHawker9 on Twitter:
"Am so excited/nervous about the AC Milan-Tottenham game I might hide in a cupboard for it! Up the Spurs!"
1628: ARIS SALONIKA v MAN CITY (1700) Aris Salonika: Sifakis, Vangeli, Guiaro, Lazaridis, Michel, Neto, Prittas, Faty, Sakata, Toja, Bobadilla. Subs: Vellidis, Oriol, Cesarec, Kaznaferis, Mendrinos, Cesnauskis, Castillo. Man City: Hart, Richards, Boateng, Toure, Kolarov, Barry, Toure Yaya, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Silva, Dzeko. Subs: Given, Kompany, Zabaleta, Lescott, Vieira, Jo, Balotelli. Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)
1624: But let's be honest - you're reading this commentary, which means you probably love football more than your own mother. Hoorah! That makes this your forum as much as it's ours. So Tweet the commentary via the hashtag
ask me a question direct
or text me via 81111 (UK). Now.
1622: And if European cup football just isn't your thing - curse you, you heathens! - I've only got the Premier League tie between
Birmingham and Newcastle
and a whole host of
action for you, haven't I? I've even brought the inimitable Football League Danny out of his little cubby hole for the occasion. So, quite literally, something for everyone tonight. Erm, as long as, you know, you like, ah, football 'n that. Ahem.
1620: So, what have we got in store tonight then? Well, little doubt about our main course, people -
AC Milan v Tottenham
in the last 16 of the Champions League. One word - crackerjack. That will be served with a side of
Valencia v Schalke
and a 1700 GMT appetiser of
Aris Salonika v Man City
in the Europa League. Which is nice.
1618: Yep, around two months since it last appeared on our sporting calendars, the Champions League and the Europa League return to midweek evenings for our viewing pleasure. And now that we've reached the knockout phases in both, I can safely say things are hotting up. British club participation? Check. The biggest clubs from abroad as opposition? Check. The great, the glamorous and the glorious of the world's footballers? Check. What's not to love?
1615: Let's not lie, we've missed it. Don't get me wrong, I adore the Premier League. The Championship and Leagues One and Two ring my bell. The FA Cup, the Carling Cup and international football all absolutely rock my socks. But European cup football? It's different gravy isn't it? Well... here it is. Tuesday just got its groove back on.
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