Bale force blows Inter away
Gareth Bale came back to haunt Inter Milan once again as Tottenham romped to a very impressive 3-0 Europa League win over the Italian giants at White Hart Lane.
Bale grabbed the world's attention when he tore Inter apart in the Champions League. Andre Villas-Boas warned Inter on Wednesday that the Welshman had improved immeasurably in the two years, four months and five days that had passed - and he was proven right.
Bale nodded home Gylfi Sigurdsson's cross to put Spurs ahead after just five minutes and he set up Jan Vertonghen for the hosts' third after Sigurdsson himself had scored the second.
All the pre-match hype had understandably been around Bale, but he started poorly, teed up by Kyle Walker with barely 90 seconds on the clock, but completely missing the ball. But with less than six minutes gone when Sigurdsson crossed for the Welshman, who beat Esteban Cambiasso to the ball and glanced home past Samir Handanovic.
Bale was in the thick of it soon after, racing down the right before finding Jermain Defoe in space, but Handanovic saved well from the lively England striker. Bale was the centre of controversy two minutes later when he was booked for diving when he went down in the Inter box, earning his third caution of the competition.
Inter could not get in to the game at all, aside from a shot over the bar from Antonio Cassano. The hosts made their dominance count by adding a second after 17 minutes through Sigurdsson. Handanovic spilled Defoe's shot after he got on the end of Lennon's cross and the Iceland international poked home from close range.
Bale went close to adding a second, as did Sigurdsson, but Ricardo Alvarez then shot wide when he should have done better at the other end. Stramaccioni brought on striker Rodrigo Palacio at the break and Alvaro Pereira fired wide - but Inter's renaissance was short-lived.
Spurs won a corner in the 52nd minute and Bale whipped over a cross which Vertonghen powered home from eight yards following a huge leap. Bale went on one of his enterprising runs, holding off three Inter players before letting fly with a shot that crept just wide.
Defoe nearly found the net with a low drive that crept under Handanovic's body but deflected wide. White Hart Lane fell silent as Palacio sneaked in behind the Spurs defence, but Friedel rushed off his line and saved superbly with his feet.
Spurs peppered the goal in their hunt for a fourth. It never came, but it did not matter. The "Taxi for Inter" chants that rang out around White Hart Lane told the story.