Diaz empowers AC Milan to a Champions League victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
AC Milan defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on Tuesday, giving the seven-time European champions control of their Champions League last-16 encounter.
Diaz scored the game’s only goal in the seventh minute at a raucous San Siro, giving Milan a 1-0 lead heading into the second leg in London next month.
The Spaniard’s goal was the first and only serious opportunity of a scrappy contest that reflected both clubs’ less-than-stellar form going into the match.
“I’m incredibly thrilled for the squad since we performed amazing job all week,” Diaz told Mediaset.
“We’ve gone through some difficult moments, but now we must move forward… first we must consider Serie A, and then we can consider the game in London.”
Milan entered the competition’s first knockout round since 2014 with their season hanging in the balance following a disastrous sequence of performances in the previous month that had left their Serie A championship defence in tatters.
However, after limiting injury-hit Spurs to virtually little on Antonio Conte’s return to Milan, the Italians have a good chance of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since 2012.
Conte, who returned to the Spurs bench two weeks after having gallbladder surgery, gave the midfield reins to youngsters Oliver Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr after injuries to Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma last week.
Diaz brings AC Milan to a Champions League victory over Tottenham
And his squad failed to provide any service to their record scorer Harry Kane, despite Milan having wonderful chances to expand their aggregate advantage late in the second half that were missed by Charles De Ketelaere and Malick Thiaw.
“We should have scored two more goals, but it was a hard-fought game, and they caused us issues,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli told Mediaset.
“This is only the first leg; the second will be significantly more difficult.”
Pioli stated on Monday that Italian teams cannot compete financially with Premier League clubs.
Diaz, on the other hand, had an already raucous San Siro shouting with delight when he pounced on Theo Hernandez’s saved effort, forcing a fantastic save from Fraser Forster before bundling home the opening.
Spurs came closest in a sluggish first half when Kane touched the bar on the rebound of Son Heung-saved min’s attempt, but it was fruitless because the Korean was offside in the build-up.
There was no goalmouth activity after that until De Ketelaere came on in the 77th minute, the Belgian forward nearly increasing the hosts’ lead almost immediately.
De Ketelaere met Oliver Giroud’s superb knockdown with a header from close range that he couldn’t steer on target.
Thiaw’s head was in his hands seconds later after squandering an even greater chance to seal the victory, inexplicably heading Rafael Leao’s inch-perfect cross wide with the goal at his mercy.
However, Spurs were unable to break through a well-managed backline commanded by Simon Kjaer, resulting in coach Conte’s second career defeat against Milan.