Tottenham Hotspur have comfortably beaten Internazionale at White Heart Lane in the Europa League Third Round, giving Inter a mountain to climb in the second leg at San Siro. Tottenham started the match strongly, and amazingly went up only four minutes into the match through in-form Gareth Bale. Gylfi Sigurdsson hit an in-swinging cross from the left, and Bale latched on to it in the center of the box and hit an inch-perfect glancing header into the far side of the net. With the early goal in the bag, Tottenham started to dominate the match and almost grabbed another goal only four minutes after Bale’s, but Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic pushed wide Jermain Defoe’s well-hit shot from eight yards out.
Tottenham looked very much like they would score again, and doubled their lead in the eighteenth minute through a Sigurdsson tap in. Defoe received the ball in the center of the Inter penalty area, turned with the ball and hit a low shot to the far post that Handanovic could only parry. Sigurdsson latched on to the loose ball and hit a simple tap in from two yards out to deservedly put Tottenham 2-0 up. Tottenham kept on playing exceptionally well and looked like they could even grab a third before the first half ended. But despite dominating possession, Tottenham could only create a Jan Vertonghen header that Handanovic had to tip over the bar in the twenty-seventh minute and slowed down towards the end of the half. They started to allow Inter to have some possession but Inter’s only chance was when a deflected Esteban Cambiasso trough ball found Ricardo Alvarez in miles of space down the left but Alvarez pulled his shot wide. After one minute of injury time, the first half ended 2-0.
The second half started more open than the first, but Tottenham were still looking the better side and got a third goal only seven minutes into the half. Bale’s corner found a completely unmarked Vertonghen in the center of the box and Vertonghen hit a powerful header downwards and into the back of the net. With the the game in the bag Tottenham slowed down the pace of the game and allowed Inter to attack them. The game would have completely changed if Inter had gotten an away goal, and Tottenham conveniently (for Inter) allowed Inter to have a few chances towards the end of the match. Inter couldn’t capitalize on those chances, despite having one golden opportunity when Cambiasso chipped the ball for Rodrigo Palacio in space down the middle. But Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel performed a magnificent kick-save to save Palacio’s shot. After three minutes of injury time the match ended 3-0 with Inter having a mountain to climb in the second leg.
Man of the Match: Gareth Bale