The fallout continues in the aftermath of Tottenham’s 4-0 defeat in their Champions League Quarter Final first leg tie against Real Madrid. Peter Crouch’s 14th minute sending off continues to dominate the back pages, but it is the absence of Aaron Lennon that has caused the most controversy.
After Lennon was withdrawn minutes before the teams emerged from the tunnel, boss Harry Redknapp confirmed the winger had been taken ill just prior to kick off and had to be replaced by Jermaine Jenas. Goals from Emmanuel Adebayor, Angel Di Maria and Christiano Ronaldo were enough to give the bigfreebet () favourites a commanding lead ahead of the 2nd leg tie next week.
But Lennon has since hit back at rumours that he pulled out of the game at the last minute, and refused to be made a “scapegoat” for the 4-0 defeat.
Writing on his Twitter page, he said: “saying I fell ill be4 the game is bull**** I fell ill on Sunday morning where the med team put me on anti botics [sic], but only got worse b4 tues.”
“believe me this is 1 game I did no wnt to miss and still devo [devastated] now!!!! but will not be made a scapegoat saying they only knew jus b4 KO.”
There was further confusion after Lennon took his place on the bench, only to be told by UEFA officials he wouldn’t be allowed to play any part in the game after his late withdrawal.
But now Redknapp has moved to quash speculation of a falling out between the pair, and insists that Lennon was not at fault for the outcome of the game.
“Aaron hadn’t been feeling well during the day,” he told Talksport. “The doctor said: ‘Look, he is on antibiotics, I think he will be OK.’ But after the warm-up, Aaron was sitting there looking like death warmed up.”
“He said he wanted to play but he had no strength or energy in his body. I said: ‘I know how much you want to play but you can’t take the chance.’
“No one’s made him a scapegoat. No one is blaming Aaron for not playing. It wasn’t Aaron’s fault. He didn’t bottle anything. The kid wasn’t well. I’ve got no problems with the kid whatsoever.” He added.
Meanwhile Gareth Bale, perhaps Spurs’ standout performer on an otherwise disappointing night, believes they can pull off one of the greatest comebacks of all time against one of the big free bet favourites for the tournament. Real Madrid visit White Hart Lane next Wednesday, and are expected to rest key players with a booking to their name to avoid suspensions for a potential semi-final clash with league rivals Barcelona.
“We have to play at our best, stop their best players and score goals at White Hart Lane,” he said.
“It’s going to be a difficult task, everyone knows that but I still think it’s possible.”
A sour note was added to the evening after Real Madrid striker Emmanuel Adebayor insisted he was the victim of racist abuse from the small contingent of travelling Tottenham support. The former Arsenal man faced the wrath of Spurs fans, but believes they went too far, and claimed they chanted his father “washes elephants”, a song he interpreted as racist. Spurs have denied the allegations that the chants were racially motivated, but admitted they were “offensive”.
Attention now turns to their crucial Premier League tie against Stoke this weekend, with Redknapp knowing that a win at White Hart Lane on Saturday will go some way to getting their Premier League campaign back on track as they go in search of securing Champions League football for next season.