Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Tottenham 3 Inter Milan 1: Night to savour for Spurs as Gareth Bale blitzes champions



Van the man: Tottenham take the lead through Dutch master Rafael van der Vaart, who squeezed his brilliant shot past Inter Milan goalkeeper Luca Castellazzi

After staring across the room at that famous old photograph on the eve of this extraordinary encounter, Harry Redknapp did not need Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Smith and Danny Blanchflower. Not when he had a quite brilliant young Welshman by the name of Gareth Bale. Not when he had players who will now stand among the greatest to have graced the European stage for Tottenham.

To the pantheon that also includes names like Mullery, Mackay and Perryman, this club can add Bale, Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Younes Kaboul. As well as just about every other member of a side that responded to the hiding they received at the San Siro last month by dishing out some damn fine football of their own.

What a performance. What a game. What a night for Redknapp at a pulsating White Hart Lane. The 63-year-old might be new to the Champions League but he stuck to his philosophy and it proved perfect against the champions of Europe and Italy.

Attack, said Redknapp, would be his team’s best form of defence and they certainly went for the throat, scoring through Van der Vaart, Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko with Bale performing the role of executioner-in-chief.

While Modric dazzled with the run that led to Van der Vaart extending his streak of having scored in all five of his appearances at this ground, Bale delivered a performance that will draw yet more comparisons with Ryan Giggs and perhaps even Cristiano Ronaldo, not least because of the quality of the opposition.

Maicon ended last season as the finest right back in the world but he was destroyed by Tottenham’s 21-year-old winger. ‘Taxi for Maicon,’ cried a jubilant crowd before Van der Vaart declared that the Brazilian had been ‘killed’ by his colleague.

World beater: Gareth Bale was once again in unstoppable form as he surged past Brazilian defender Maicon

Bale humiliated Maicon so many times that he appeared to give up in the end. It was Obiora Nwankwo who Bale beat on his 50-yard run before setting up Crouch, and a flat-footed Lucio past whom he pushed the ball, school playground style, to deliver a pass for the goal by Pavlyuchenko that removed the threat posed by an 80th-minute strike from Samuel Eto’o.

This is not supposed to happen to a team like Inter Milan, even if Jose Mourinho has now moved on and Rafa Benitez stands in his place.

Last season Maicon stood strong in a defence that at times looked impenetrable en route to European glory. But in the sensational Bale they have met a player capable of exposing their weaknesses — first with the hat-trick in Milan and now with this.

At the double: Peter Crouch slots home Bale's brilliant pass to extend Tottenham's advantage

That Tottenham did not win by a greater margin was down to a glaring first-half miss from Crouch, when Bale was again the provider, and the fact that this remains a fine Inter team. The absence of the injured Esteban Cambiasso clearly took its toll but this is much the same side that dominated under Mourinho and an equal share of possession proved how tough an examinat ion this was for Redknapp’s men.

Spurs started with real purpose, attacking down the flanks in exactly the manner their manager said they would. The pace was blistering; the skill at times breathtaking. The sight of Bale accelerating past Maicon certainly lifted the home supporters, as did an unlikely victory for the diminutive Modric in winning the ball off the towering Lucio.

Bitter blow: Wesley Sneijder reacts to a missed opportunity as team-mate Walter Samuel looks on in horror

There was more to come, of course. Much more. After 18 minutes, two neat passes from Bale and Benoit Assou-Ekotto saw Modric accelerate past Sulley Muntari and Javier Zanetti before slipping the ball through to Van der Vaart. The Dutchman, who appeared to be just onside, guided a calmly-executed finish beyond the grasp of Luca Castellazzi.

By then the European champions had shown flashes of their considerable class, not least when Eto’o drove a shot inches wide of Carlo Cudicini’s left-hand post.

Unhappy return: Inter Milan boss Rafael Benitez struggles to comprehend his side's failure on his return to English soil

But Tottenham were up for this and so was Redknapp, who must have been feeling more than a little smug given the reasons he offered for selecting such a team.

‘How can I leave out Luka Modric?’ he said on the eve of this utterly absorbing contest. How indeed. By half-time in the San Siro, Tottenham were four goals down and hoping to escape with no more than a 5-0 defeat. Here, it was a very different story, even if it took a fine save from Cudicini to push a free-kick from Wesley Sneijder to safety shortly before the break.

Running the show: Bale hot steps Lucio as Spurs fans marvel at the Welshman's brilliant performance

Troubled by the hamstring injury that made him a doubt for this game, Van der Vaart could not continue after the break. But that did not stop Tottenham increasing their lead, Inter’s inability to deal with Bale proving their undoing in the 61st minute.

Bale made the run from just inside Inter’s half before delivering the cross that presented Crouch with an easy chance, albeit under pressure from Walter Samuel.

Hitting back: Samuel Eto'o showed his class with a sublime finish to give the visitors late hope

With Eto’o’s right-foot strike came an almost overwhelming sense of anxiety. But Bale was far from finished, the sight of him skinning Lucio something that will live long in the memories of those fortunate enough to witness it here.

Redknapp, standing just yards away, had the best view of all.

Finish to remember: Roman Pavlyuchenko puts the gloss on an unforgettable night for Tottenham with their third goal

source: dailymail

No comments:

Post a Comment