Andre Villas-Boas last night called for Uefa action against Internazionale after Emmanuel Adebayor responded to apparent racist chanting by scoring the goal that took Tottenham into the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
The spotlight is again on European football's governing body. Monkey noises were made by home supporters on several occasions when Adebayor was involved in the game. Both Kyle Naughton and Mousa Dembélé also appeared to be targeted in extra-time and one fan in the Inter section was holding what looked like an inflatable banana.
"Uefa set out to act on that situation. It was very, very easy to hear the chanting so I'm sure Uefa will act on it," said Villas-Boas. "It's very difficult for Inter Milan because it's happened before. It doesn't mar the game but it's something that should not have happened."
Lazio were fined £32,500 for racist chants towards Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend during the Europa League match at White Hart Lane last September. Following further racist offences, the Rome club were forced to play two European games behind closed doors.
Inter have also been fined a total of £55,900 by the Italian authorities this season for two racist offences from their supporters, against Chievo and then in the derby against Milan, when Milan players Mario Balotelli and Sulley Muntari were the objects of their abuse.
Villas-Boas was quick to demand action, after admitting his team had come close to a humiliating exit. Spurs led 3-0 from the first leg but goals from the excellent Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio and an own goal from William Gallas put Inter level on aggregate.
In added time, Esteban Cambiasso missed a wonderful chance to knock the Londoners out and he was made to pay when Adebayor scored six minutes into the extra 30. The drama did not end there as substitute Ricardo Alvarez made it 4-1 on the night in the second period of extra time but the Italians, in poor form in Serie A, could not find the fifth goal they craved.
This, then, is what happens to Tottenham when Gareth Bale does not play. Deprived of their star man, Tottenham were at times torn apart by a modest Inter side. After Bale was booked for diving during Spurs' 3-0 win at White Hart Lane last week, Villas-Boas hinted that the one-match ban would benefit Spurs. Their lead was so substantial, went the theory, that Bale could have his slate wiped clean before rejoining the team for the last eight.
How close Villas-Boas came to regretting those words. There is only so much a coach can do to prevent poor decisions from his players, but the tactical choices the Portuguese made were very surprising, playing both Adebayor and Defoe in attack and demanding a high line from a defence containing Gallas, 35, and 41-year-old goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
"'It's always the players who can decide the matches," said Villas-Boas. "The coach can only lead them to some kind of failure. What leads the players is their mind; the way they approach the match. I think we suffered from that point of view tonight and that affected our performance on the pitch."
Gallas looked particularly jittery at the back and he was lucky not to concede a penalty for an apparent shove on Cassano in the 17th minute. Had the kick been awarded, Gallas could have been given a straight red card.
Spurs' relief lasted only three minutes. Fredy Guarin released Palacio, who flighted a cross to the far post where Cassano headed it into the net, with Friedel stranded.
The visitors' slack defensive organisation meant Inter were frequently able to beat the offside trap. When Cassano lifted a ball over Spurs' high defensive line, Palacio ran clear and lifted the ball over Friedel, only for it to skim the top of the crossbar.
The pattern was clear: Inter would probe Spurs with early balls into the space behind the defence. Still, Villas-Boas would not instruct the back four to drop deeper. There was little surprise, therefore, when early in the second half Palacio ran on to Cambiasso's pass from deep, drew Friedel and slid the ball into the corner.
Spurs had their chances, too. Just before Palacio scored, Adebayor burst clear down the left and cut the ball back for Jan Vertonghen only for the Belgian to mis-kick. Villas-Boas brought off the ineffective Defoe and sent on Lewis Holtby, switching the formation from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1, yet still Inter managed to unlock Spurs.
They won a free-kick to the left of the penalty area and although Cassano's strike was weak, it flew off the wall towards a startled Gallas, whose attempted clearance spun back past the helpless Friedel.
Then, Cambiasso should have closed the deal. Winning possession from an ultra-nervy Gallas, the Argentine moved into the area but put his shot just wide of Friedel's left post.
It was the stroke of luck Tottenham needed. At the start of extra-time, Lennon, on as substitute ,Vertonghen and Gallas all went close.
Moments later, Samir Handanovic could not hold Dembélé's powerful 20-yard drive and Adebayor reacted quicker than anyone to score. Back came the home side and Alvarez set Spurs' nerves jangling again when he headed in Cassano's cross with 10 minutes of extra-time still remaining.
Substitute Andrea Ranocchia then put a free header over the top and finally, Spurs were safe, but there was little joy from their exhausted, chastened players at full-time. How they react to this performance, both at home in Europe, might determine the outcome of their season.
Man of the match Cassano.
Match rating 9/10.
Referee I Bebek (Croa).
Quarter-final: Draw details
The draws for the last eight of both the Champions League and Europa League take place in Nyon on Friday morning, live on Eurosport and Sky Sports News. The draws are open and unseeded.
Champions League last eight
Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray, Juventus, Malaga, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid
First leg 2/3 Apr Second leg 9/10 Apr
Europa League last eight
Basle, Benfica, Chelsea, Fenerbahce, Lazio, Newcastle United, Rubin Kazan, Tottenham Hotspur.
First leg 4 Apr Second leg 11 AprReuse content