ROUND OF 16 (First leg)
THURSDAY 7th MARCH, 2013
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (2) FC INTERNAZIONALE MILANO 0 (0)
Referee:- Antonio Mateu Lahoz
Assistants:- Pau Cebrian Devis & Javier Rodriguez
Additional assistants:- Carlos Gomez & Carlos Del Cerro
Fourth official:- Roberto Diaz Perez del Palomar
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (sub Naughton, 81), Dembele (sub Livermore, 64), Parker (Capt.), Sigurdsson (sub Holtby, 70); Bale; Defoe
Subs not used:- Lloris; Dawson, Caulker; Carroll
Booked:- Bale (alleged simulation)
Inter (4-2-3-1):- Handanovic; Zanetti (Capt.), Ranocchia, Chivu, Juan (sub Palacio, 46);Gargano, Cambiasso; Alvarez (sub Jonathan, 67), Kovacic ( sub Guarin, 55), Pereira; Cassano
Subs not used:- Belec; Benassi, Pasa, Mbaye
Booked:- Guarin (simulation), Pereira (foul on Lennon)
Taxi for Inter
I thought we might be good enough to gain a two goal lead in this tie, but never dreamt of us taking a 3-0 lead to The San Siro next week. I said before the game that Inter were not the team they used to be, and this effort proved that they have indeed deteriorated into quite an ordinary team.
Spurs were well in control from the outset; two goals up within 18 minutes, and my only disappointment is that we did not score one or two more goals. Still, a three goal lead is a magnificent margin to take to Italy, and we only need to score one goal to make them need five goals. Spurs can surely make plans for the quarter finals of the Europa League.
Andre Villas-Boas made minimal changes to Sunday's team, with Friedel replacing Lloris, Gallas replacing Dawson, and Jermain Defoe replacing the injured Adebayor.
Inter have their injury problems and coach Andrea Stammaccioni gave Cassano a start, despite apparently having fallen out with the striker on the training ground recently. First choice striker Milito has been out injured since 14th February.
Inter, playing in an orangey red second strip, were set up in a 4-2-3-1, with Gargano and Cambiasso in front of the back four, and Alvarez, Kovacic, and Pereira behind Cassano.
It didn't make much impact in the first half, as Spurs looked like running the Italians ragged before too long. Playing towards the Paxton End in the first half, Spurs were soon on top, with Walker making a good run, and a cross which Bale mis-cued, and which took Sigurdsson by surprise.
In the sixth minute though, Spurs were in the lead, and it was through a headed goal by Bale, after a cross from the left by Sigurdsson, following a Spurs throw. Bale rose to head home just inside the back post. I recently caught a Cliff Jones interview in which our Welsh Double-winning legend said that Bale could improve by scoring more headed goals. Gareth has made a start, and this was at the right end too!
The Spanish referee seemed to either miss a few incidents, or deliberately let them go, and it looked to me like Spurs got away with a handball in the build up to a move, when the ball was crossed from the left, and Defoe had his first shot parried and his second attempt blocked.
Spurs were looking so much sharper and superior to Inter. Bale tried a shot from 28 yards which passed wide, and then got what looked to me like an unwarranted yellow card for alleged simulation, when going down in the penalty area. This was Bale's third booking of the tournament, and it means he must miss next Thursday's second leg.
Inter did have a chance after Alvarez's shot was blocked and Kovacic fired well over the target. Then, with only 17 minutes gone, Aaron Lennon skipped into the area, and cut the ball back for Defoe, whose shot was parried, with Sigurdsson following up to score Spurs' second goal, and only his fourth for Spurs.
Dembele made a good tackle on Alvarez, as the Argentine was advancing towards the Spurs area. Sigurdsson won a corner on the left, following which Bale crossed, and Vertonghen hit a looping header, which goalkeeper Handanovic tipped over from under his bar.
Spurs might have increased their lead and it could have been another Bale header. Bale had been involved in the build-up with Parker, Defoe and Sigurdsson, before the latter crossed, but Bale did not get enough power on the header.
Sigurdsson had a chance himself,after a poor defensive ball, but his shot was held. Then Inter had a chance before the break when Cassano had a shot blocked, before Alavarez fired wide across goal.
Stammaccioni replaced left back Juan with Palacio at half time,switching Pereira to left back whilst Palacio took over on the left of midfield,but also added more prominent support to Cassano.
However, Spurs kept the pressure up, with Sigurdsson so nearly running onto a clever pass by Defoe. Vertonghen nearly made contact at the back post, when Bale swung over a free kick from the right hand side.
At the other end, Aaron Lennon did just enough to put Pereira off his shot, before Spurs won a corner, taken by Bale, and headed home by Vertonghen to make it a most commanding 3-0.
Bale went on a run down the right channel on the hour, but hit his shot just outside the keeper's left post.
Scott Parker was industrious throughout the game, and as has been the case sine his return from injury, he sparked a lot of Spurs attacks. One feed to Defoe led to a shot well saved by Handanovic for a corner. Lennon broke up an Inter attack in his own area, before sending Defoe on a run all the way to the opposite end, only for the defence to block.
Sigurdsson hit a great deep cross, from which Bale had a shot blocked, and Defoe was prevented from getting in a shot. Lennon had another shot blocked after another Parker feed.
Palacio beat the offside trap to get goal side from a free kick, but Friedel saved with his legs. Gallas made a good run forward, exchanging passes with Bale, before feeding the ball across to substitute Lewis Holtby, whose shot took a deflection and was picked up by Handanovic.
Naughton replaced Lennon, and played in his position on the right of midfield. Parker made another territory grabbing run, before Bale teed up Defoe, who was on the left of the box,but failed because he wanted to hit a right foot shot.
It was a great night for Spurs, and there was a celebratory atmosphere throughout, with ritual abuse for Arsenal past and present, with ITV pundit Lee Dixon taking plenty of flack from the Park Lane fans.
Those of us travelling to Milan next week should be able to enjoy a relaxing trip!
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