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Inter v Spurs, 20.10.10

Wednesday 20 October 2010, 7.45pm
(8.45pm local time)

UEFA Champions League Group A – Match 3


Inter scorers:-
Zanetti 2, Eto’o 11p, 35, Stankovic 14

Spurs scorer:-
Bale 52, 90, 90+1

Internazionale (4-2-3-1): (Coach Rafael Benitez)
1 J Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 W Samuel, 26 C Chivu (27 G Pandev 61); 4 J Zanetti (capt), 5 D Stankovic (39 D Santon 50); 88 J Biabiany (2 I Cordoba 75), 10 W Sneijder, 29 Coutinho; 9 S Eto'o.

Substitutes not used: 12 L Castellazzi (gk), 11 S Muntari, 19 E Cambiasso, 23 M Materazzi.

Booked: Chivu (17 foul on Lennon)

Tottenham Hotspur (4-1-4-1): (Coach Harry Redknapp)
1 H Gomes; 2 A Hutton, 13 W Gallas, 19 S Bassong, 32 B Assou-Ekotto; 6 T Huddlestone (Capt) (12 W Palacios 80); 7 A Lennon, 8 Jenas, 14 L Modric (23 C Cudicini 10), 3 G Bale; 15 P Crouch (10 R Keane, 67). Substitutes not used 4 Y Kaboul, 5 D Bentley, 9 R Pavlyuchenko, 21 N Kranjcar.

Booked: Palacios (89 foul on Lucio)

Sent Off: Gomes (8 foul on Biabiany)

Keane took over the Captain’s armband when Huddlestone was substituted.

Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro), Milan, Attendance: 70,520.

Referee: Damir Skomina.
Assistant Referees: Primož Arhar, Marko Stancin.
Fourth Official: Boris Toseski.
Additional Assistant Referees: Matej Jug, Dragoslav Peric (All Officials from Slovenia).

Bale The Hero At San Siro

Ed:- I am exceedingly grateful to my good friend Declan Mulcahy for providing this match report, to which I have been able to add little. he even spotted the fact that Inter fans were desperate for the final whistle, which in the circumstances, was the greatest tribute I can offer to our Bale-inspired team

This game will long be remembered in the rich history of Tottenham Hotspur’s European exploits. It was a match which had seven goals, a sending off, a penalty and a most unexpected ending. At half time Spurs were in utter disarray and looked to be heading for a record European defeat. At the end it was the Inter supporters who were baying for the final whistle and although Spurs lost, they had staged a morale-boosting late come back.

Spurs faced the most challenging of their group games away to the current Champions League champions Internazionale of Milan. Spurs had played a competitive game at the San Siro Stadium, against the red half of Milan, AC Milan, in April 1972 gaining a very creditable 1-1 draw in the semi-final on their way to winning the UEFA Cup.

Harry Redknapp made four changes from the team which had secured a good away win on Saturday against Fulham. Three were enforced and one tactical. Bassong replaced the injured King. Van der Vaart was suspended and Lennon who had played well against Fulham came in instead. Sandro is not in the Champions League squad and was replaced by Jenas. Finally Crouch was preferred up front to Pavlyuchenko. Cambiasso and Milito were injured for Inter.

Spurs made the worst possible start falling a goal behind after only seventy seconds. Coutinho passed to Eto’o who set up Zanetti who was on the left side of the box. Gallas made a desperate attempt to stop him but he scored with a diagonal shot to the far corner of the goal. It was only Zanetti’s second goal in the Champions League and at the age of 37 years and 71 days he became the oldest player to score in the competition.

Five minutes later Spurs' predicament became considerably worse. Sneijder hit a superb long diagonal pass from just inside Spurs half towards the right corner of the penalty area. Biabiany gathered the ball goalward of Assou-Ekotto and entered the box. Gomes advanced towards him and had little option but to bring him down. The referee pointed towards the penalty spot and brandished a red card at Gomes.(Ed:- In the ground we thought that the referee had shown Gomes the card twice, but I understand that he initially sent off Ekotto, but was corrected by the goal-line official)

The Spurs management team then had to make the difficult decision as to which player to bring off so that a substitute goalkeeper could be introduced. Modric was the unlucky player sacrificed as Cudicini came on. Cudicini’s first act was to face Eto’o’s penalty. He correctly moved to his right but Eto’o lifted his shot over the diving keeper.

It took only another three minutes for a third disaster. Maicon played a through ball to Stankovic on the left of the box. Although Stankovic was surrounded by three Spurs players he scored with a shot between Huddlestone and Bassong to the near post. Spurs’ dream was truly in ruins. Only fourteen minutes had elapsed and they were 3-0 down.

Shortly afterwards the black helmeted Chivu was booked for illegally stopping Lennon.

Inter came close to a fourth after 24 minutes. Spurs failed to deal with a Sneijder corner. An Inter player at the far post set up Stankovic in a more central position. Stankovic’s volley deflected off Bale and Cudicini had to make a diving save.

Three minutes later Spurs had their best opportunity of the half. Lennon crossed from the right. Crouch had a free header but put the ball over the bar when he should have scored.

The remainder of the first half belonged to Inter. Hutton made a good block from a Sneijder shot. However a minute later Coutinho set up Eto’o on the edge of the box with a nice through pass. Eto’o advanced in the box and despite Gallas’s despairing tackle unleashed an angled shot which went through Cudicini’s legs into the far corner. Spurs were now four down after 34 minutes.

Inter had further goal attempts in the minutes before half time. Coutinho, who was a constant threat, hit a shot from outside the box. Cudicini spilled it but gathered the ball on the second attempt. Then Maicon received the ball on the right side of the box. Cudicini parried his first effort and stopped the second one. Finally a nice run by Coutinho just before the half time whistle resulted in a shot which hit the side netting.

My thoughts at half time were, would Spurs suffer their worst ever European defeat beating the current 4-1 record and would Eto’o score a hat-trick?

Redknapp made the brave decision at the interval, not to shore up the defensive element for the second half and try and hold the score at 4-0.

Six minutes after the restart Spurs gave a dramatic indication that they would not just lie down. Bale gathered the ball in his own half, made a searing run down the left wing and cut into the box leaving several Inter players in his wake. He unleashed a diagonal shot which beat Cesar, scoring at the far post. It was a goal of outstanding individual brilliance which will live long in the memory. In addition it gave Spurs a psychological boost.

For the next ten minutes Inter responded. The substitute Santon hit a low shot which Cudicini did well to save at the near post. A minute later Sneijder wriggled into the box and luckily lost his balance which allowed the Spurs defenders to clear the ball. Soon after Coutinho attempted to put Eto’o in the clear down the left side but Gallas made a good saving tackle. Then Coutinho shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box.

After 66 minutes Assou-Ekotto crossed from the left towards Crouch. Crouch went down a little too easily under the attention of an Inter defender. While he raised his arms to claim a penalty it was never going to be given. Almost immediately he was replaced by Keane who did not see a lot of the ball for the remainder of the game.

With ten minutes remaining Palacios replaced Huddlestone who had not enjoyed one of his better games. Keane took over the captain’s armband. Three minutes later Bale went on another good run down the left. However he outstripped his team mates and despite providing a nice cross there wasn’t a Spurs player in the box to finish off his good work. With three minutes remaining Hutton made a good run. He advanced to the edge of the box and then shot too high.

With a minute left Bale picked up the ball just in the Inter half and went on another great run before turning into the box. Zanetti tried to intercept him but was beaten by Bale’s sheer pace. He unleashed an angled shot similar to the first one, again scoring at the far post. Suddenly the score was starting to look respectable!

A minute into injury time Lennon embarked on a mazy run down the centre of the pitch. On reaching the edge of the box he slotted the ball to Bale just inside the box on the left. Once again he aimed a shot to the far post to complete his hat-trick. The Spurs faithful were delirious with joy.

The game resumed for another minute and it was the Inter supporters who were exhorting the referee to end the match. It if had lasted another three or four minutes who knows what might have happened.

So ended an action-packed game. Spurs had a dreadful first half conceding four goals and being reduced to ten men. However there are some positives to take from the day overall. It was an achievement, to score three goals without reply in the second half, against the Champions League champions on their own ground, while being a man down. Werder Bremen and Twente drew which was the best possible result. Spurs remain two points ahead of both of them with a far superior goal difference. They should still qualify for the knock out stages of the competition. The home game against Bremen will be the key fixture.

Champions League Group A

		   P  W  D  L  F-A  GD  PTS
1.Inter Milan      3  2  1  0 10-5   5   7
2.Spurs            3  1  1  1  9-7   2   4
3.Fc Twente        3  0  2  1  4-7  -3   2
4.SV Werder Bremen 3  0  2  1  3-7  -4   2

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