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Incredi-Bale Spurs!

Posted on 2 November 2010  - 12:00

One of the all-time great European nights in our history. Champions League holders Inter Milan defeated at the Lane after a magnificent performance.

Incredi-Bale Spurs!

One of the all-time great European nights in our history. Champions League holders Inter Milan defeated at the Lane after a magnificent performance.

And it was Gareth Bale once again who stole the show. Who thought things could get any better for that young man than scoring a hat-trick at the San Siro a fortnight ago? Well, they just did!

No goals for the Welshman tonight but just about everything else in a display that will make the rest of the continent, if not the world, stand up and take notice if they weren't doing so already.

Maicon, perhaps the best full-back on the planet, did not have an answer to the endless bombardment down the flank from the first minute to the last.

Rafael van der Vaart shook off a hamstring injury to take his place in the starting lineup and give us a first half lead before sitting out the second period.

Bale was more than able to take over from there - his run and cross just after the hour mark setting up Peter Crouch to double our lead before the moment that will live long in the memory a minute from the end.

With our backs to the wall following a Samuel Eto'o strike, Bale burst from well inside his own half to run almost the length of the pitch and somehow still find the energy to deliver the perfect ball for Roman Pavlyuchenko to apply the finishing touches.

Incredible stuff on a night none will forget in a hurry. And in case that wasn't enough, the win took us top of Group A with two games remaining in this Champions League group stage.

Harry Redknapp made three changes from the side defeated at Manchester United on Saturday, one enforced as Carlo Cudicini came in for the suspended Heurelho Gomes, while we were boosted by the return from injury of captain Tom Huddlestone, who replaced Jermaine Jenas in midfield. Crouch, meanwhile, started up front in place of Robbie Keane.

Inter made also made three changes from a fortnight ago, while Luca Castellazzi replacing Julio Cesar in goal, former Portsmouth man Sulley Muntari coming in for Dejan Stankovic and Goran Pandev getting the nod ahead of Coutinho, who was so impressive at the San Siro.

Another of their star men on that night was Eto'o, who produced this game's first chance with a 20 yard shot that fizzed past Cudicini's left-hand upright, skimming the side-netting on the way.

But after that early scare we got into our stride. Van der Vaart keeping up his incredible record in having scored in all of his five appearances at the Lane so far in his short Spurs career.

Credit must go to Luka Modric for it's creation as a bit of trickery on the edge of the box left Muntari on the floor before he slipped in the flying Dutchman to finish first time on the turn.

It came in what was by far our best spell of the half, during which our lead should have been doubled on the 25 minutes.

Bale gave Maicon a taste of what was to come, beating him all ends up before putting over a cross to the back post that Crouch lashed wide on the volley with the goal at his mercy.

Redknapp's frustrated reaction on the bench said it all and the miss certainly seemed to give the visitors impetus to put us on the back foot towards the end of the half.

Lucio had a shot that deflected just wide off Younes Kaboul and the ever-dangerous Wesley Sneijder shot straight at Cudicini from inside the box before the Dutchman forced a superb flying save out of the Italian stopper with a free-kick three minutes from the break.

At the other end, van der Vaart saw a free-kick of his own deflected just over, but that was his last real action of the game.

So it was left to his team-mates to finish the job he had started, and their intention was clear from the start of the second period.

Bale put an overhead kick inches wide and Crouch forced Castellazzi to tip over his looping header before the pair combined just after the hour mark.

The awesome Welsh winger made an unstoppable break down the left before delivering an absolute peach of a low cross for the big man to make up for his earlier miss and ram home at close range.

2-0 up against the champions of Europe and we were in dreamland!

It could have been even better had our strike just moments later stood as the Crouch/Bale duo combined again, but the latter was adjudged to have taken the ball out of play as he reached the by-line.

Rafa Benitez used the aces up his sleeve, throwing on the impressive Coutinho and bringing Diego Milito, the man who struck twice in last season's final, back from injury.

The Argentina striker nearly had an instant impact when he linked up with Sneijder and Eto'o before firing inches wide with 20 minutes to go.

Then with 10 minutes to go, Inter were right back in it. Alan Hutton and William Gallas perhaps afforded Eto'o a little too much space to pick his spot in Cudicini's bottom corner from inside the box.

So it was no wonder why the roof nearly lifted off the Lane when Bale carried us forward for one last surge to tee up Pavlyuchenko to put the game beyond doubt.

Back to league matters with a tough trip to Bolton on Saturday - but we'll enjoy this moment for tonight at least.

Spurs (4-4-1-1): Cudicini; Hutton, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Palacios, 85), Huddlestone, Modric, Bale; van der Vaart (Jenas, 46); Crouch (Pavlyuchenko, 76)
Subs not used: Pletikosa, Bassong, Kranjcar, Keane

Inter (4-2-3-1): Castellazzi; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu; Zanetti, Muntari (Nwankwo, 53); Biabiany (Coutinho, 63), Sneijder, Pandev (Milito, 70); Eto'o
Subs not used: Orlandoni, Cordoba, Materazzi, Santon

Goals: Spurs - Van der Vaart 18, Crouch 61, Pavlyuchenko 89. Inter - Eto'o 80.

Attendance: 36,310.

Referee: Mr Viktor Kassai (Hungary).