The Nerazzurri gave Tottenham Hotspur a footballing lesson in the first half of last night’s Champions League fixture scoring four goals in only 35 minutes. Gareth Bale was the only glimmer of hope for the away side as his single handed attempt to drag his team back into the game ended with a second half hat-trick.
Inter welcomed the English side to the Giuseppe Meazza knowing that a win would leave them tantalisingly close to qualification, however, Inter were injury plagued and had to start the game missing several key players. Diego Milito and Thiago Motta were both sidelined whilst Goran Pandev and Esteban Cambiasso were on the bench but not fully fit. Inter started with a familiar back line with Julio Cesar in goal behind Christian Chivu, Lucio, Walter Samuel and Maicon, the holding players were Javier Zanetti and Dejan Stankovic with Wesley Sneijder in his usual role behind Samuel Eto’o, Philippe Coutinho and Jonathan Ludovic Biabiany.
The game could not have started any better for the Nerazzurri as they attacked straight from the off, a fine passing move cut through the Spurs defence like a knife and the ball eventually found Javier Zanetti, Alan Hutton was hopelessly out of position and the Inter captain profited unleashing a superb curling shot passed a despairing Heurelho Gomes. The goal was as majestic as the Argentine himself and was as symbolic as if he had planted the Inter flag in the Tottenham goal. Spurs attempt to clam the game down was calamitous and it was no surprise six minutes later to see Biabiany racing down on the Spurs goal, Gomes hurtled out and scythed down the French under 21 International. A red card followed for Gomes along with a penalty that Eto’o superbly blasted past the replacement goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini. The Nerazzurri had smelt blood and proceeded to tear away at the wounded away side; Dejan Stankovic took advantage of some comical defending on the edge of the box and fired the ball low passed a static Cudicini: 3-0 and only 14 minutes played. The barrage continued and Stankovic had chances for a fourth and fifth but to no avail, the Spurs goal was soon breached again however, this time Coutinho took advantage running into space he should never have been allowed in before slotting the ball to Eto’o who added increased embarrassment to Spurs. At half time it was 4-0 and in the second half the fans expected more, however, maybe with the weekends game against Sampdoria in mind Inter sat back somewhat, especially when Stankovic limped off injured. The consequence of this was allowing Gareth Bale to have too much room on the Inters right hand side and his virtuoso performance saw him grab an unprecedented hat-trick with two coming in the final minutes, Inter will have to learn from this as it was uncharacteristically complacent. The final score, 4-3.
Bale had scored three good goals and has been revered in the media for being Tottenham’s only saviour from total annihilation although Julio Cesar disagrees with the quality of the goals saying that, “I was so angry. I didn’t even touch the ball. The Brazil Coach was in the stands. I was asleep on the first goal. Even the second was avoidable. The third wasn’t. It was like my brother was in goal, not me”
The mood in the Inter camp after the game seemed to be a bitter sweet with Rafael Benitez also being mindful of Inters complacency, he was quick to point out that the Nerazzurri need to learn from this saying, “Naturally I am satisfied that we won, but the negative aspect is that after an excellent first half we lacked intensity in the second. We have got to learn how to control the game better, as we simply cannot finish like this. With 11 men against 10 the tactics weren’t important, as it was all about the mentality. I hope this lapse in concentration can teach Inter a lesson.” This word ‘intensity’ keeps reappearing this season from Benitez and it is essential that the European Champions learn to keep this up for 90 minutes.
Javier Zanetti had mixed feelings and said “I’m delighted to score again; it was a really good goal, but Eto’o did so well to set me up. For a second I turned into Diego Milito because it was the type of goal he scores. It’s certainly a nice feeling to mark my 135th European appearance with a goal.” But also acknowledged that “we relaxed a bit and it mustn’t happen again.”