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Champions League

Tuesday 2nd November 2010


With the injury to Rafael van der Vaart on Saturday at Old Trafford, Spurs may once more take to the Champions League playing field with a weakened side, but this time we are not the only ones. 

Internazionale arrive at White Hart Lane without Esteban Cambiasso and goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who have both suffered similar hamstring injuries to VDV.  But there are more than enough stars in the Inter squad to cover for their missing men, while Spurs also possess a big roster of players to pick from, but we are missing our star men in key areas.

It is a matter of how the Italians want to play the game.  Having won two and drawn one, they are realistically three points away from qualification.  So, do they go for the three points on Tuesday and play the last two games against the two sides Spurs are vying with for second spot, fielding a less than full strength XI ?  Or do they try and see this game out without too much stress and settle for a point, relying on a home game against Twente to see them through ?

A point would suit both Tottenham and Internazaionale, but playing out a draw at this stage of the group might be too much to ask for.

I am sure that the visitors will want to prove that the comeback in the game a fortnight ago was just them taking their foot off the gas, but Spurs probably came too close for comfort and Inter will want to show that they are in control.  Whether they will be able to catch Spurs that cold again at the start of the match is another thing that is questionable.

This CL campaign is very much a learning process for Spurs and the fact that they have been slow starters in both the first leg of the Young Boys qualifier and then again at the San Siro, means this is the first lesson they need to take on board.  Second is that the quality of the teams you play against means that you cannot afford to be as sloppy as you might be in the Premier League, where you might get away with it.

Spurs will probably hope Tom Huddlestone makes it and that VDV can struggle through some part of the game, but he will also be needed for PL matches, so there is no point potentially putting him out for even longer. 

Gareth Bale showed that even the Brazilian Maicon and Argentinian Zanetti are fallible, as he sped past them twice to score in the away match.  The players that Inter brought off the bench to rest their first choices were not nearly of the same class and there might be some scope for Tottenham to get after the Inter players should they have the space and time on the ball.  Inter will close Spurs and Bale, in particular, down as soon as possible and we may see some of the cynical play that Twente exhibited here.

The ball needs to be worked wide on every occasion to get at Inter down the flanks, but the midfielders must be aware that they must also track back, as the likes of Sneijder and Eto’o are expert at seizing the opportunity to counter attack and the Tottenham defence, as we have seen regularly this season, has not got the resilience on a regular basis to keep a clean sheet.

Gomes is suspended, so Cudicini steps into the goal to try to keep out the array of Inter superstars and he is sound enough, but will be tested in this match.  With Gallas and Kaboul in front of him, he will need to boss them and to make sure that any set-pieces are defended with great attention.

With any luck, it would be a fantastic result to gain a win from the game, but a more likely result would be a draw if Inter are content to play the game out without a great deal of effort and if they field some of their younger players, rather than their strongest side.


PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    1      Internazionale    1


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jermain Defoe (out - ankle), Michael Dawson (out - knee & ankle), Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin), Jamie O'Hara (out - back);  Ledley King (out - groin); Heurelho Gomes (out - suspended); Sandro (out - ineligible); - (-); 

INTERNAZIONALE :  -  Esteban Cambiasso (out - hamstring); Julio Cesar (out - hamstring); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   3    Internazionale   1      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Tuesday 2nd November 2010
Kick Off :  7.45 p.m.
Crowd :   36,310
Referee :  V. Kassai (Hungary)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Dry, mild
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

23  Cudicini

32  Assou-Ekotto
  4  Kaboul
12  Gallas
  2  Hutton     

  3  Bale
14  Modric     
  6  Huddlestone (c)
  7  Lennon  (12  Palacios 84)

  1  van der Vaart    (  8  Jenas 46     )

15  Crouch  (  9  Pavlyuchenko 76  )

Unused subs: 
37  Pletikosa
21  Kranjcar
15  Keane

Internazionale :

12  Castellazzi

  4  Zanetti (c)
  6  Lucio
25  Samuel

11  Muntari  (40  Nwankwo 53)

10  Sneijder
27  Pandev  (22  Milito 71)
88  Biabiany  (29  Coutinho 64)

  9  Eto'o 

Unused subs: 
21  Orlandi
  2  Cordoba
23  Materazzi

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

van der Vaart  18
Crouch  61
Pavlyuchenko  89


Eto'o 80

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Hutton  (foul)  39
Jenas (simulation)  72
Modric (not retreating 10 yards)   90+3  



Samuel (foul) 36
Chivu (foul)  51
Lucio (dissent) 86   


Match Report : -  
Little did I realise that when I left work, I would be heading to White Hart Lane for what was to be the best footballing night of my life.  For 42 years I have been going to watch Tottenham Hotspur and this must be the pinnacle of all those times I have walked along the High Road to matches and to see Spurs so comprehensively dismantle the existing European Champions League winners was a fantastic sight to behold.

It wasn't just a fluke win over one of Europe's big boys, but a complete domination that brought a 3-1 win over Internazionale that was richly deserved.  Tottenham outplayed the Italians (although there were few Italians on the pitch wearing black and blue) so impressively that the likes of Lucio, Maicon, Sneijder and Eto'o were made to look second rate in comparison to even the most prosaic Spurs player.  On the night, it was Glory Glory all the way, with the boys in all white turning on one of the most memorable displays that we will witness for many. many years.

From the start it was evident that the second half comeback in the game a fortnight before had given Spurs the belief that they could live with the likes of Inter and by the time we approached half-time, there was almost a self-confident swagger about the Spurs play, as the confidence flowed through them.  Some crisp passing opened Inter up in the first few minutes, but the final ball was lacking from Spurs, although Sneijder had the first sight of goal on the night, but managed to drag his shot wide.  In the seventh minute, Inter came even closer, when Eto'o moved the ball forward from the edge of the centre circle and when he got just outside the box, let fly and the ball fizzed past the static Cudicini's left hand post, rippling the outside of the side-netting on the way.

A couple of minutes later and it was Spurs threatening the Inter goal this time, with Crouch's head being a target for the Tottenham crossing.  He won one that fell just too far away from Lennon and then Spurs moved the ball on the floor, with Modric jinking past Lucio to hit a shot that was too close to Castellazzi and he dropped on the ball to save.  Talking about jinking, it was about ten minutes in when Bale decided to start playing on the left wing.  Twice he left Maicon for dead with a swift change of pace and then manoeuvred the ball past Muntari tight to the line with a double drag-back. 

Inter were still trying to probe through the Spurs defence, with Eto'o and Biabiany almost breaching it, but Cudicini was quick off his line to get to the ball first as the speedy French striker burst towards the edge of the area.  Wesley Sneijder was a peripheral figure at this stage, flitting around the edge of the play, but he did make a forward move to shoot straight at Cudicini, who took the ball in his midriff quite comfortably.

But in the 18th minute came the moment White Hart Lane started rocking.  Assou-Ekotto had the ball on the left and played the ball infield to Luka Modric.  His bamboozling footwork left Muntari mesmerised and moving into the edge of the D, it looked like he was about to have another shot, but he was aware that Rafael van der Vaart was moving off him to his left and the ball through saw the Dutchman holding his run to stay onside.  Rafa was also aware of where the keeper was, with a quick look up, before smacking the ball left footed into the net from about ten yards out.  The crowd went berserk as the players swamped VDV !!

Bale was enjoying the freedom that I didn't think would be allowed him and another easy move past Maicon brought a cross that popped up too high for Lennon to make contact, instead having to try and jump at the waist high ball to control it.  In the 25th minute, Gareth took the ball past Maicon and with Lucio closing in, he crossed low to Peter Crouch at the far post and his first time volley flew across the face of goal.  Everyone thought he should have scored as he was in the six yard box, but he would have had to fade the ball in off the outside of his foot and he had Samuel and the keeper closing him down, so it would have been a tough skill to pull off.  You did wonder though, whether that might have been a turning point in the game. 

Internazionale then had a five minute spell of pressure, where Zanetti moved forward and hit a shot well wide, Biabiany was foiled by Cudicini's rush to beat him to the ball and then Lucio struck a shot from outside the box, but it was deflected wide by Gallas.

On the half hour, Bale showed he is human after all, when he cut inside and hit a right foot shot that was way off the mark, although a couple of minutes later, he was on the end of Crouch's knock-down from Lennon's cross to shoot, but Lucio blocked the effort.  Lennon's next involvement saw him skip away from Samuel on the right wing, only to find his legs taken from under him and a yellow card being waved at the Argentine defender.

There was a moment of concern for Spurs when Sneijder put a free-kick in the box, which Crouch won with his head, but it hit a player in front of him, but fortunately Cudicini took the rebound safely.  Spurs turned defence into attack, with Crouch nodding on to van der Vaart, but with players blocking his route to goal, he played the ball back for Tom Huddlestone to shoot, but he didn't make a good contact and the ball squirted off his foot and went wide.

A couple of minutes before half-time a free-kick on the edge of the Spurs box for a foul by Modric and it was all set up for Sneijder to strike a shot at goal.  And this was the turning point of the game, as a goal then might have set Spurs back with the interval so close.  The Dutchman got his shot over the wall and it was heading into the top corner until Cudicini leapt to push it two-handed over the bar.  it was a fine save.

van der Vaart almost picked out a cross at the other end, but Lennon and Crouch had both gone beyond it and then Maicon threatened the Spurs goal with a ball into the box, which was cleared away.

The half-time whistle came as a bit of a relief, with the crowd giving the Tottenham team a rousing send off to the dressing room.  What could we expect in the second half ?  Surely Inter would come at Spurs, but would that leave the vulnerable to the counter attack ?

What we didn't expect was Rafa to be substituted and Jermaine Jenas to replace him.  Some people ion the crowd were saying that this would mean we would be o the rack for 45 minutes, but what happened was that Luka Modric stepped up to the mark and put in a fantastic second half display ... even better than he had played in the first half.  And Jenas didn't do bad, covering a lot of ground to stop Inter playing through the middle.  He also got the ball out to Lennon early on and the little winger's cross saw Crouchy try an overhead kick at the second attempt, only for it to go about a yard sideways to Bale, who then wasn't able to get a shot off, with the ball not coming down for him.

Bale was centre-stage again in the 52nd minute, as Kaboul's challenge for Huddlestone's free-kick from the right worried Castellazzi and his punch only reached the edge of the box and Bale lobbed the ball back over his own head and that of the keeper, but it dropped agonisingly a foot wide of the post.  The keeper did better in the next Tottenham attack, when the ball was worked from Assou-Ekotto on the left through Modric and Jenas to Lennon on the right and his cross found Crouch's head.  The ball was going in, until Castellazzi rose up and tipped it over the bar.

Lennon again found space on the right and his low ball in to Gallas at the near post found the central defender a little to far ahead of the near post to run the ball in and it went well wide, but he got back to break up the next Inter attack with a good interception.  Both he and Kaboul were getting to the ball before the Inter players and they both put in good performances to win the aerial challenges and showed good marking of their opponents.

On the hour, Gareth Bale put in another action replay of his runs at the San Siro, with a run from just inside the Inter half, outstripping their sub Nwankwo to get to the line and pull the ball across, taking out the keeper and his ball beating Samuel, allowing Peter Crouch to stick out a long leg to prod the ball home from close range.  Cue delirious celebrations once more, as Inter were opened up with ease.

Three minutes later, it was almost another action replay, with Bale getting past Maicon tight on the dead ball line before putting it into the six yard box for Crouch to stretch and hit into the roof of the net, but the fifth (or sixth) official said that the ball had gone out of play before he crossed it.  He was right on top of Bale, so had a good view of it. 

With 20 minutes left, Eto'o showed what he is capable of when he moved in from the left side of the area to strike a shot low to Cudicini's near post, but the keeper fell on the ball to save comfortably.  Then Inter took off the ineffective Pandev and brought on Diego Milito up front.  He almost scored with his first touch, making space on the left and pulling his shot across the face of the Tottenham goal.

Ten minutes to go and it started to get a bit nervy, when Inter pulled a goal back.  In almost a replica of Eto'o's shot of ten minutes previous, Sniejder and Milito engineered some space for the Cameroonian on the left corner of the box and he turned inside Hutton and drifted past Gallas before hitting an early low shot to Cudicini's left and into the bottom corner.  2-1 and how would Spurs react ?  Would they sit back and try to defend the lead ?  We have seen that fail before, so a nervous ten minutes lay in store.

With Gareth Bale looking out on his feet and moving as far away from the bench as possible, it looked as Wilson Palacios would replace him to waste a bit of time, but the number seven went up and Lennon went off, with Bale left on, looking exhausted.  But Spurs kept going forward and Jenas broke on the right making a run form halfway, before getting clattered by Lucio in the box.

Then, as the fourth official was about to raise the board with added time, Bale picked up the ball halfway inside his own half on the left wing.  Taking the ball forward, he pushed it past 20 yards past Lucio and with Samuel closing from a central position, he raced onto it and got there first.  He looked up and as Samuel had not committed to meeting him, he was caught in no-man's land, leaving Bale to pick out a ball back to substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko (on for Crouch) to calmly side-foot home from a couple of yards out.

This time the roof nearly came off !!  The fans went mental and the players showed their relief at scoring what must surely be the winner.

There was no time to relax, as Milito took a 25 yard shot from the kick off and his shot grazed the top of the bar on the way over.  But right to the end, Spurs kept going forward and Pav showed good strength to hold Samuel off under a bouncing ball and he got into the box, but slipped as he shot and Castellazzi took the scooped shot easily.

But then the final whistle went and the crowd greeted it with one of the biggest cheers the old ground must have ever heard. 

It was a consummate performance by the team from back to front, with everyone playing their part in a marvellous victory that announces the arrival on the big stage after too long away.

This must surely be the start of something.  The squad is in place, the manager seems to have them playing the way we love to see them play and the players seem to love it.

With some of these performances in the Premier League, Champions League football should be ours once more next season and more nights like this would then become a reality rather than the dream they have been for so long.

Marco van Hip


Fan Reaction : -



What a night !!  And it's good to see that the Italians are getting their excuses in.

Mancini putting it down to injuries why they couldn't beat Spurs, but don't forget who we had out too.

Benitez took an arrogant stance in assuming that Bale couldn't play like that again and while his team had a few chances, not many of them trouble the goal.  His natural defensive tactics helped Spurs going forward, with little cover from midfield, where the likes of Sneijder just puffed after Bale and left Maicon exposed to the Welshman's pace.  Lucio is a nasty piece of work, but even he wasn't quick enough to be able to foul Bale, let alone tackle him.  Given a standing start, Gareth just roasted him for the third goal.

What are Tottenham capable of ?  Well, on this showing, just about anything and we should fear nobody at the Lane. 

But, we haven't qualified for the knock-out stages yet, so they must do it all again against Bremen and Twente.

Oh, yes ... and against Bolton and Sunderland within the space of the next week too !!

Sparky Marky

While it was Gareth Bale who took all the plaudits, just how good was Luka Modric tonight ?

For a player who the 'Professor' Arsene Wenger said would not make it in the Premier League because he was too light-weight, he did a fantastic job of holding the ball in tight situations and making insightful passes when on the ball.  His movement off it is top class and the inter-play with van der Vaart in the first half was sumptuous, with the goal the ultimate result of their passing.

When he runs with the ball he reminds me so much of Ossie Ardiles, is isn't true.  And he gets on with the game if he does get knocked over without the sort of histrionics that Countinho performed after he came on.

While £8 million for VDV is a steal, even the £13 million (or whatever price it was) for Luka looks like money very well spent.

Kevin Mendament







Other scores this round of games :
Werder Bremen (GER) 0 FC Twente Enschede (HOL) 2 Tuesday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 2 1 1 12 8 7 +4
2 Internazionale 4 2 1 1 11 8 7 +3
3 FC Twente Enschede 4 1 2 1 6 7 5 -1
4 Werder Bremen 4 0 2 2 3 9 2 -6

Position before the match : 2nd
Position after the match :  1st


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