Tottenham’s Peter Crouch apologized to teammates after his 15th-minute ejection precipitated a 4-0 loss at Real Madrid in their Champions League soccer quarterfinal opener.
The England striker got two yellow cards in seven minutes last night with Real leading 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Emmanuel Adebayor added a second headed goal before Angel di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the last 18 minutes.
Crouch “apologized to the lads” in the locker room, Spurs captain Michael Dawson told reporters. “We all tried to give our all but it didn’t really go to plan. Going down to 10 men against a team like Real Madrid is always going to be hard.”
The return match is at White Hart Lane in north London on April 13, when record nine-time European champion Real will try to secure a semifinal spot for the first time since 2003.
Real is on course for a matchup against Barcelona in the final four should its archrival beat Shakhtar Donetsk in another two-game quarterfinal that starts today at Camp Nou.
The 1.98-meter (6-foot-5) Crouch lunged at Sergio Ramos, upending the Real defender to get his first yellow card, and seven minutes later mistimed his sliding challenge on Marcelo to earn the red card.
“Peter Crouch lost his way a bit,” said Real coach Jose Mourinho, who patted the striker on the back as he left the field. Crouch, who scored the only goal in the round-of-16 clash with AC Milan, left the stadium without speaking to reporters.
Mourinho said that the dismissal conditioned the game.
“At this level it’s very difficult to play for so long with 10,” Mourinho told a news conference, adding it was an “impossible mission” for an attacking team like Spurs.
Adebayor, a former Arsenal striker who’s on loan from Manchester City, had made it 1-0 when Luka Modric failed to clear his downward header off the goal line.
Tottenham resisted and Gareth Bale had its best chance after 30 minutes when he raced into the penalty box and fired into the side-netting.
“For the first half I thought we did fantastic with 10 men, we had a couple of good opportunities on the break, but we ran out of steam,” Spurs manager Harry Redknapp told reporters.
Referee Felix Brych waved away a Real penalty appeal when Dawson appeared to block Di Maria’s shot on the edge of the box with his arm just before half time.
Adebayor, unmarked in the penalty box, made it 2-0 in the second half with a looping header from Marcelo’s cross. The 1.91-meter (6-foot-3) Togolese striker, nicknamed “Manolito,” the Spanish diminutive for Manuel, received a standing ovation when he was substituted with 13 minutes left.
“I got chills when I heard the Bernabeu chant Manolito, Manolito,” Adebayor said.
Real made sure of the victory with what Dawson called “world class” strikes by Di Maria and Ronaldo. Di Maria cut inside from the wing and hit a 20-yard left-foot shot into the top corner of the net after 72 minutes.
Ronaldo, playing his first match since injuring his hamstring March 19, volleyed Kaka’s cross into the net from 10 yards with three minutes left.
Redknapp said he was “disappointed” by Crouch’s dismissal, which had left Spurs facing an “impossible task” last night and with a slim chance of advancing.
“It’s never over until it’s over and you never know, though obviously we’ve got a mountain to climb,” he said.
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