Someone needed to get a cab round to Inter’s hotel last night, because they didn’t turn up. There was just some useless mob trying to be Arsenal in red that were thumped at The Lane.
On the 35th minute of the Champions League group game at the San Siro, Samuel Eto’o scored to make it 4-0 against the 10 man visitors. Since then Spurs have beaten last night’s Europa League opponents 9-1. For the third straight game they put 3 past the team that just 3 years ago were champions of Europe.
But this wasn’t the champions of Europe. This wasn’t the Inter anyone expected and not just because I Nerazzurri were wearing some horrible red kit.
This also wasn’t the same Spurs we’ve seen so far in the Europa league. Previously there’s been a seemingly going through the motions, lacklustre approach to this competition. Whether it was visit of the famous name from Italy or a realisation that winning this trophy would be a good place to start I don’t know but this looked like the Spurs who lit up the major European competition just a couple of years back.
From the off Spurs looked interested in this one.
And this wasn’t a one man team. Even if he did open the scoring. Scoring early, it’s never too early these days is it, helps a lot, it might have set the campaign on fire if they’d done so against Lazio in the first group game.
Six minutes in it started here. Gylfi Sigurdsson playing a nice little pass to himself then swinging in an excellent cross onto Bale’s head for the “winger” to glance the ball into the bottom side netting. Un-savable.
Little over 10 minutes later the Icelander turned from provider to scorer. Dembele in majestic form played a nice little dink through two defenders to Lennon, a little scamper then he cut it back to the onrushing Sigurdsson. But the ball was cut out by Defoe who proceeded to do what he does so often, no, not what the media tells you he does so often but what he really does. Makes great room for himself and then hits the ball straight at the ‘keeper. He’d already done it once before on the night.
Luckily Sigurdsson had kept on onrushing, jumped out of the way of Defoe’s attempt – not block it Adebayor style – and put the ball into the net. Twenty minutes in and 2-0 was beginning to flatter the visitors.
But it wasn’t looking like being enough as shortly before the second goal Bale was shown yet another yellow for simulation and so will miss the second leg of the tie. This time unlike the other’s he’s picked up this season it was probably deserved – media keep telling you the numbers not how many were actual dives. Yes there’s contact but caused by Bale dragging his leg not the type to justify going down.
So without Bale for the return leg two nil just wasn’t enough. Though the most important thing was to keep that clean sheet.
Back to the scorer though, all of a sudden those decrying his signing are now singing his praise. Yes he now looks like the player we thought we were getting. Well that’s the we that thought we were getting a decent player, not the muppets that think he isn’t good enough for us. Not a big enough name for some even though it’s 10 letters. Yes he wasn’t at his best at the start of the season but is now showing his value. Excellent work for both goals and great all round performance including a number of tackles.
There was a little slack period by Spurs just before the break but even though they got one player clean through he didn’t actually trouble Friedel enough for him to have to make a save. After the break there, fortunately, wasn’t a continuation of that slackness but rather something new from Spurs. Potency from set pieces.
Following on from Bale actually scoring from free-kicks there was Caulker’s attempts from corners against the Spam. From a free-kick Bale won he found Vertonghen at the back post, who just missed. This seemed to be the plan, Jan at the back stick. From a corner moments later Vertonghen moved unmarked from the back post to the middle of the goal to meet Bale’s cross with perfection.
He was pretty much untouched. This isn’t an Italian side defending surely. Where was the grabbing, the pulling, the smothering, the hugging, the sly nudge? They weren’t even watching the man but the ball. Does that happen these days? Well it just did.
Unfortunately that’s where the scoring stopped, though it could also be said fortunately as Inter had a great chance later on. Taking a quick free-kick, Spurs were found napping but Friedel saved excellently with his foot, especially considering what little had to do previously.
Three nil was flattering the visitors. It could have, should have been more. Bale, Defoe, Lennon all missed good chances. Lovely little nutmeg by Lennon on the edge of the box, he should have hit it straight away but went n a little run. Charge out by all the Spurs’ speed merchants, Lennon, Bale, Walker and Defoe was butchered by Defoe being greedy.
Typical Defoe. Yes he hit the ‘keeper, yes he was greedy. But he looked bothered, far more bothered than Adebayor has looked of late. All that was missing was a goal, because we know he’s streaky and needs to get that streak started.
Sigurdsson was my man of the match, followed quite quickly by Dembele, Lennon, Vertonghen and Bale. Others gave it to Parker because he ran around a bit. He was given plenty of space and time to move forward with the ball because Inter were far more interested in the host’s dangerous players, tactics shown to be right by his butchering nearly every forward move he was involved with. Usual ponderous pirouettes were there, while we saw on Tuesday Modric turning away from his opponent and creating plenty of space for himself, Dembele was doing it last night as well, Parker just creates trouble for himself and others.
But he ran around they screamed, almost as if ‘Arry told to. Back to his England form. But you watch how many times he does that running without actually doing anything. The appearance of doing something. Running behind someone running with the ball, never quite interfering with their run, then slowly fading off to mince about in an area of no influence.
After the substitutions things became more fractured and not so fluid. Downer on the night, far worse probably than Bale’s suspension considering the 3-0 lead was Lennon going off with a hamstring injury. AVB apparently had asked the winger, and Bale if they wanted to stay on. Hindsight.
Three goal lead to take to Italy is a strong position, especially as Spurs are the only ones who can get away goals now – score once and they need five – and the away form has been good this season. Spurs playing Inter at their ground and everything is optimistic. Something wrong here.