Gareth Bale inspired Tottenham to a 3-1 victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League at White Hart Lane.
Welsh wizard gives North London a European night to cherishGareth Bale failed to repeat his hat-trick heroics against Inter Milan but he produced another mesmerising performance to ensure the quivering defending champions of Europe were brushed aside 3-1 at White Hart Lane. The Wales winger famously helped his 10-man side rescue pride in a 4-3 defeat in Italy in their previous outing in UEFA Champions League Group A, however, he arguably mustered an even greater all-round display in London. Rafael van der Vaart, who was substituted at half-time as a precaution following a concern of aggravating his hamstring injury, Peter Crouch and substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko scored the goals but Bale snatched the headlines. The pace, purpose and poise of Tottenham's No. 3 tormented Inter defenders Maicon and Lucio throughout a brilliantly atmospheric night in England's capital to render Samuel Eto'o's goal as a mere consolation. On a glory, glory night arguably not witnessed at White Hart Lane since Spurs last rubbed shoulders with the game's elite almost half a century earlier, Harry Redknapp's side were simply irresistible. Their win was enough to take them above Inter on goal difference at the top of the group and put them on the verge of qualifying for the knockout phase. In what was a typically-breathless game, Tottenham were magnificent to a man, but Bale once again stole the show with another jaw-dropping performance less than a fortnight on from his stunning Giuseppe Meazza hat-trick.
DeafeningSo badly did he humiliate the so-called best right-back in the world that, long before the end, the home fans were singing: "Taxi for Maicon!" There were also other world-class displays from the likes of Luka Modric, and Van der Vaart, who combined to open the scoring in the 18th minute. Bale brilliantly laid on the second for Crouch to end his recent goal drought, Eto'o set up a nervy finish but Bale was on fire and another cross saw Pavlyuchenko seal the points. The atmosphere as the game kicked-off was almost deafening and Tottenham responded by taking the initiative in a way they had completely failed to do in Milan in October. But Inter were not to be intimidated and gave as good as they got in the opening 15 minutes which saw Eto'o flash a warning shot wide and Jonathan Biabiany almost put through after a lovely exchange. At the other end, Modric's finish was too close to stand-in goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi, while the final ball was also letting Spurs down. That changed in spectacular fashion in the 18th minute when the rejuvenated Modric, who had been buzzing around dangerously, sold two beautiful dummies on the edge of the box to slide in Van der Vaart. The Dutchman bent his run perfectly to stay onside and steer the ball beyond Castellazzi and maintain his record of scoring in every home game since joining Spurs. A frantic game then became manic, with Carlo Cudicini forced three times to race off his line, most tellingly to thwart Biabiany. When Bale skinned Maicon for a third time in the 25th minute, he produced a ball Crouch somehow contrived to slash wide from less than six yards.
BamboozleA superb break saw more desperate Inter defending clear the excellent Aaron Lennon's cross and Walter Samuel was booked for cynically tripping the winger when he threatened to race clear. The visitors ended the half on top and Alan Hutton saw yellow after being bamboozled by some sublime Eto'o skill. With two minutes of the first half remaining, Cudicini produced a magnificent save to turn Wesley Sneijder's free-kick over the crossbar. Half-time saw Spurs withdraw Van der Vaart, who had been passed fit to play following injury, for Jermaine Jenas. Cristian Chivu became the latest player booked for hauling back Lennon before Bale almost hooked a second goal for Spurs into an empty net after Younes Kaboul had challenged Castellazzi. Inter replaced the injured Sulley Muntari with Obiora Nwankwo before their keeper had to arch backwards to tip Crouch's header over after a great Tottenham break. But the lanky striker had the last laugh just past the hour mark when yet more astonishing wing play from Bale put the ball on a plate for him to slide into the net in the 61st minute. The sensational Bale was rampant and Crouch tapped home what he thought was his second only for the assistant referee to correctly rule the ball had gone out of play during the build-up. Biabiany tried to respond for Inter before being withdrawn for Coutinho, while another new arrival, Diego Milito, flashed a ball right across goal. Jenas was rightly booked for diving and further substitutions followed for both sides, including the introduction of Pavlyuchenko for Crouch. A carnival atmosphere suddenly became twitchy with 11 minutes remaining when Eto'o rifled home from 20 yards after beating Hutton with brilliantly quick feet. But, as in Italy, Bale was to have the final say, galloping forward on the break a minute from time, leaving Lucio in his dust and crossing for Pavlyuchenko to slot home.
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Statistics||Internazionale|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||6|
|7||Shots off Target||6|