Bale makes hay as Spurs shock holders Inter

White Hart Lane, London – 02/11/2010 – Group stage
Tottenham
Tottenham
Van der Vaart 18 Crouch 61 Pavlyuchenko 89
3 - 1
Internazionale
  • Eto'o 80
Internazionale
End-to-end drama

"Bale is against a guy rated as the best right-back in the world; what he's done is amazing." Harry Redknapp

2010/11

• Lionel Messi scored in the final to take his tally to 12 for the season – equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy's competition record. He also became the first player to finish leading scorer three seasons running.

• MŠK Žilina's 7-0 loss to Olympique de Marseille was the competition's heaviest home defeat. The Slovakian side did not pick up a point in Group F and a goal difference of -16 was a group stage record.

• FC Internazionale Milano's Javier Zanetti became the competition's oldest scorer at 37 years and 71 days on Matchday 3. The mark lasted a fortnight before Filippo Inzaghi – 15 days older – hit twice for AC Milan.

Tournament newcomers Tottenham Hotspur FC left their fans in dreamland with a victory against FC Internazionale Milano that lifted them above the UEFA Champions League holders to the Group A summit.

Rafael van der Vaart, Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko got the goals that rewarded some wonderful attacking football from the hosts. Not least Gareth Bale, who followed up his San Siro hat-trick in a 4-3 defeat in the reverse fixture a fortnight earlier with another thrilling display of wing play, claiming two assists and giving Maicon a torrid time.

The English side's five previous UEFA Champions League games had yielded 25 goals and this was another open game full of positive intentions. Samuel Eto'o and Luka Modrić had already threatened at either end when the latter fashioned Spurs' opener after 18 minutes.

The Croatia midfielder jinked past Sulley Muntari then slid a superb reverse pass to Van der Vaart and the Dutchman, his run timed to perfection, made no mistake. Spurs should have had a second when Bale sped past Maicon and delivered a far-post cross that Crouch sliced wide on the volley.

Inter saw more of the ball as the half came to a close and Carlo Cudicini, deputising for the suspended Heurelho Gomes, was forced to tip over Wesley Sneijder's free-kick. The force was with Spurs, though. Bale hooked a shot a whisker wide with Luca Castellazzi stranded, but the Inter keeper was soon on hand to tip over Crouch's header.

On the hour Spurs got their second and it was no surprise that Bale was the architect. The 21-year-old raced from the halfway line, leaving two Inter players in his wake, before crossing low for Crouch to slide the ball in. The pair did it again soon after but Bale had let the ball run out of play before crossing.

Eto'o ensured some jitters when he found the bottom corner for his seventh goal in the group stage ten minutes from time, but Tottenham made sure as Bale broke free again to tee up Pavlyuchenko. There was still time for Diego Milito to hit the crossbar but it was Spurs, and Bale, celebrating.

"The boy can run and run and run," manager Harry Redknapp said of Bale. "He's against a guy rated as the best right-back in the world and what he's done over the last two games is amazing." Few at White Hart Lane disagreed.

Star players

  • Eto'o

    Cameroon's most decorated player, Eto'o has won three UEFA Champions League titles with FC Barcelona (two) and FC Internazionale Milano, scoring in the 2006 and 2010 finals. After winning Olympic gold and the first of two Africa Cup of Nations titles, he made his name at RCD Mallorca. Joined Barcelona in 2004 and spent five years there, scoring 109 goals in 144 league games. He won three Liga titles, adding a Serie A crown at Inter after switching in 2009.

  • Van der Vaart

    A product of AFC Ajax's academy, Van der Vaart made his first-team debut at 17 and within 18 months he was a senior international. He won two titles and the Dutch Cup in Amsterdam, his scheming and technical class bringing him around a goal every two games from attacking midfield. He had three years at Hamburger SV, two at Real Madrid CF, then joined Tottenham Hotspur FC after helping the Netherlands to the 2010 FIFA World Cup final.

  • Bale

    Wales's youngest senior international and goalscorer, Bale was 17 when he joined Tottenham Hotspur FC from Southampton FC in 2007 in a €7.5m deal. Progress was restricted by injury and he had to wait until January 2010 and his 23rd start for a first league win at the club. By then his pace and power was being shifted from left-back to the wing, with devastating results.

What happened next?

• Tottenham Hotspur FC beat SV Werder Bremen 3-0 next time out and, with FC Internazionale Milano losing to the German side on Matchday 6, a 3-3 draw at FC Twente earned top spot in Group A.

• Spurs became the first side to score at least twice in all six group stage outings. One was enough in their last-16 tie with AC Milan before a 5-0 aggregate loss to Real Madrid CF ended their run.

• The following month Inter won the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time, beating TP Mazembe in the final; within a week Rafael Benítez's contract was terminated and Leonardo replaced him.

• Inter beat FC Bayern München on away goals in the last 16 in a repeat of the 2009/10 final but another Bundesliga side, FC Schalke 04, shocked the holders 7-3 in the quarter-finals.

• After guiding Inter to second in Serie A and Coppa Italia glory Leonardo made way for Gian Piero Gasperini; Spurs finished fifth in England, missing out on a UEFA Champions League spot.

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