Inter Milan vs Tottenham match report – San Siro – Wednesday 20th October
Gareth Bale hit a brilliant hat trick but ended up on the losing end against an impressive Inter Milan in a remarkable game at the San Siro.
Javier Zanetti gave Inter the lead inside two minutes before Samuel Eto’o doubled their advantage from the spot after Heurelho Gomes was sent-off.
Eto’o then added his second shortly after and Dejan Stankovic gave Inter what looked a unassailable 4-0 lead.
But Bales' magical second-half hat-trick gave Spurs a chance to rescue a point although it was not enough in a spectacular contest.
Few people could have predicted such a stunning encounter between the two top sides in Group A.
Tottenham got off to the worst possible start as Milan took the lead after just 68 seconds thanks to a wonderfully crafted goal.
Quick, incisive passing resulted in Phillippe Coutinho receiving the ball in space before supplying Eto’o, who then played in Zanetti to give Inter the perfect start.
And it got worse for Harry Redkapp’s side when just minutes later Jonathan Biabiny found himself through on goal only to be brought down by Gomes.
The referee had little option but to send off Gomes and, after a short delay, Eto’o stepped up to fire past substitute Carlo Cudicini.
Inter made it 3-0 inside 15 minutes against a shell-shocked spurs as Eto’o and Stankovic linked up brilliantly on the edge of the area, giving Stankovic the space to fire in a 20-yard drive, low into the bottom corner.
It was a quite remarkable opening to a game which many though was too tight to call but in truth it was all one-way traffic.
The game did begin to settle down, although the hosts remained in control and only a fine save from Gudicini kept the lead at three.
Spurs started to come into the game and had their first real opening in the 22nd minuted but Peter Crouch could only steer his header over from Aaron Lennon’s cross.
They couldn’t keep the hosts at bay for much longer, however, as Inter carved Tottenham open once again with more stunning one-touch football.
It resulted in 18-year-old Coutinho finding space deep in the Spurs’ half and he played in Eto’o whose weak shot crept under the body of Gudicini.
It could have been more for an utterly dominant Inter but Gudicini made a fine save from Maicon’s fierce strike.
Spurs did survive until half time but that was no consolation to Harry Redknapp as his side had been outplayed by an impressive Inter outfit.
Whatever he said at half time must have worked, though, as Tottenham finally had something to celebrate through a piece of magic from Bale.
Having picked up the ball inside his own half, Bale produced a superb burst to fly past several Inter players and then angled in a precise shot into the bottom right hand corner for a magnificent solo goal.
Despite the goal, Inter were still the better side and constantly threatened a fifth but had to be careful of Tottenham, who looked dangerous on the break.
After a breathtaking hour of football, the game’s ferocious pace eventually seemed to ease with Inter happy to have possession and sit on their lead.
It remained quiet until the last minute when this miraculous match had another dramatic twist.
It came through the once again outstanding Bale as he produced his second moment of brilliance with another fine goal, a replica of his second.
This time he collected the ball inside the Inter half and yet again drove at the defence and arrowed in a fierce shot into the bottom corner for a superb second.
He then wrapped a magnificent hat trick a minute later when Lennon teed him up 15 yards out and then hammered in a shot past a helpless Julio Cesar.
Although it was to little too late for Spurs, they will take heart from a much-improved performance after the break and will be confident going into the return leg in two weeks time.