The Milan captain Rino Gattuso apologised for head-butting Tottenham's assistant manager Joe Jordan last night in a fiery end to a famous 1-0 victory in Milan that puts Spurs in a strong position to eliminate the Italians next month and reach the quarter finals of the Champions League in their first season in the competition.
Gattuso's attack occurred during a mêlée after the final whistle in which Gattuso also seemed to land a punch on the Spurs substitute Sébastien Bassong. Earlier Gattuso had grabbed Jordan by the throat during the game after an exchange between the pair. It now looks likely that Gattuso will face Uefa charges and after being booked for a separate incident will be suspended for the second leg at White Hart Lane on 9 March.
The Milan captain, who can speak English from his season at Rangers, refused to divulge to Italian reporters the exact details of what Jordan, a former Rossoneri player, had said to him. Gattuso said: "Jordan was busting my balls for the whole second half, but I should never have done what I did. There is no justification. I lost my head and I assume all responsibility for my actions. I don't want to say what we argued about, but it was my mistake."
Peter Crouch's seventh goal in European competition this season secured the victory for Spurs, the first win away from home for the club in their entire history in this competition. The game was also marred by a two-footed tackle by former Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini on Vedran Corluka that Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said was "horrendous" and insisted should have earned the Frenchman a red card.
Corluka will have scans today on his ankle but left the stadium on crutches last night. Redknapp appealed to Uefa to review footage of the tackle. However, given that Flamini was shown a yellow card by the French referee Stephane Lannoy at the time it is highly unlikely that he will face retrospective punishment.
Redknapp said: "I don't know why it got so silly. Gattuso had a flare-up with Joe Jordan. I don't know why. He obviously hadn't done his homework. He could of picked a fight with somebody other than Joe. He put his head into Joe's face, it was crazy. He lost his head.
"The tackle from Flamini was a sending off. It was horrendous. He had two feet off the floor, a leg-breaking tackle. He has done some damage. I've watch it four or five times and it was horrendous. Charlie [Corluka] will have an X-ray but nothing is broken. That's good because he could've broken his leg easily.
"I would like to see them [Uefa] to look at that tackle," Redknapp added. "It was terrible. How the ref didn't give a red card I don't know."
It emerged late that Flamini did apologise to Corluka after the game and his apology was accepted by the Croatian. Redknapp said that it was one of his proudest nights as Spurs manager and said that the key to his side's success was playing with the intensity of a Premier League game.
Redknapp said: "They didn't play because we didn't let them play. I told my players we play a faster, higher intensity game than them and have to play that way, working them and playing at our pace of game. It's faster. If we'd tried to stroll around it wouldn't suit us. We had to not let them have time to play and did that. We didn't let them play.
"We've done half the job. We know they're dangerous. We have the advantage but it's half-time. It's still all to play for. It'll be an interesting second leg."
The Milan head coach, Massimiliano Allegri, admitted he was disappointed with Gattuso's conduct but claimed his captain's anger was sparked by a late tackle on him by Steven Pienaar. "Flamini's tackle was quite a bad one but the foul on Gattuso on his knee was also a bad one," Allegri said. "I don't know what happened at the end of the match. It was not nice to see. I think there was a reason but there is no excuse for that."
He added: "We have to play a different game in the second leg. Qualification is still open, we will go to England with a lot of faith."