In their first ever Champions League campaign, Tottenham thumped title holders Inter Milan 3-1. After a nervous first round match, talisman Gareth Bale set the tempo for the blistering performance.
AFP - Tottenham enjoyed one of the most memorable nights in the club's history as Gareth Bale inspired a 3-1 win over holders Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Harry Redknapp's side tore into the European champions at White Hart Lane and, although Rafael van der Vaart, Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko got the goals, it was Bale who took centre-stage with a truely spell-binding display.
Van der Vaart opened the scoring early on before Wales winger Bale, continuing his emergence as one of Europe's brightest young talents, produced superb runs to set up goals for Crouch and Pavlyuchenko after the interval.
Samuel Eto'o had briefly sent pulses racing when he made it 2-1 in the closing stages, but Rafael Benitez's team would have been flattered by a draw.
For supporters raised on sepia-tinted tales of the 'glory, glory nights' when Tottenham took on Europe's best in the 1960s, this was a dream come true.
The Premier League club are now top of Group A - ahead of Inter on goal difference - and look well set to reach the knockout stages.
Redknapp had spent the last few days in increasingly combative mood as he stewed over Nani's controversial goal for Manchester United against his side on Saturday.
But the Spurs boss received some good news in the lead-up to kick-off as the English Football Association confirmed he would not be punished for his comments about referee Mark Clattenburg, who had awarded that bizarre Nani goal.
Spurs had looked a bundle of nerves against Inter two weeks ago, yet there was no sign of any stage-fright this time.
It was Tottenham who set the tempo, with Bale - scorer of a brilliant hat-trick in that 4-3 defeat in the San Siro - tormenting Inter right-back Maicon with a pair of incisive surges.
Spurs' pressure was rewarded in the 18th minute when van der Vaart extended his record of scoring in every game at White Hart Lane since his transfer deadline day move from Real Madrid.
Luka Modric deserved the lions' share of the credit for the goal as the Croatian worked space for an astute reverse pass that caught the Inter defence flat-footed and allowed van der Vaart to smash his shot past Luca Castellazzi.
The White Hart Lane faithful were at fever pitch now and Crouch should have increased Tottenham's lead when Bale burst clear of Maicon again and lifted a perfect cross to the far post, where the England striker wastefully miscued his effort wide.
It took a superb save from Carlo Cudicini, deputising for the suspended Heurelho Gomes, to preserve Tottenham's lead as he lept to his left to push over Wesley Sneijder's free-kick.
Tottenham's momentum could have been stalled when Van der Vaart, so influential in the first half, was forced to come off with a hamstring problem at half-time.
Yet they continued to cause Inter problems and Bale hooked an overhead kick narrowly wide after Castellazzi could only half clear with a weak punch.
Castellazzi did better soon after as he tipped over Crouch's header from Alan Hutton's cross as Spurs counter-attacked with pace and purpose.
Benitez had insisted before the match that Bale was not unstoppable, but Inter had no answer to the 21-year-old and he set up the second goal in the 61st minute.
Another blistering run left Obiora Nwankwo for dead and Bale's low cross was perfectly-weighted for Crouch to tap-in his fifth goal of the season.
Eto'o reduced the deficit in the 80th minute as he cut inside Hutton and drilled a powerful shot past Cudicini.
But Bale deservedly had the last word as he sprinted clear down the left and teed up substitute Pavlyuchenko to slide home the killer third goal in the 89th minute.
Date created : 2010-11-03