Tottenham Hotspur vs. Inter Milan: Final score 3-0, Nerazzurri fail to show up

Richard Heathcote

Well, that wasn't much of a contest, was it?

I expected Tottenham Hotspur to win on Thursday, but I certainly didn't expect what we saw. Inter Milan hardly showed up for the match, and subsequently got steamrolled. While a number of their players were dealing with injuries, the players that they did put on the pitch are accomplished professionals. They looked nothing of the sort on the night, as Spurs easily won 3-0. It could have been much worse for the Nerazzurri.

Tottenham took the lead after just six minutes of play, with Gareth Bale rising up to head in a cross rom Gylfi Sigurdsson. Once again, Sigurdsson was handed a start over Clint Dempsey and Lewis Holtby, and he made the most of it with a great performance. His delivery from the left flank immediately following a corner was flawless, and Bale got up high to nod it in.

In the 14th minute, Bale was booked for simulation when he went down with minimal (if not no) contact in the penalty area. It wasn't clear whether he dove or simply tripped over his own feet, but in any event, it certainly wasn't a penalty and the call was understandable from the referee's perspective. Bale will be suspended for the second leg of this tie because of yellow card accumulation.

Sigurdsson doubled Tottenham's lead in the 18th minute at the end of a great move. Moussa Dembele got it started by taking on the Inter midfield and playing a nice ball down the right for Aaron Lennon. He squared for Jermain Defoe, who had his shot saved by Samir Handanovic, but Sigurdsson was well-positioned to tap in the rebound.

Inter's best chance to pull back a goal came in the 41st minute, when an attempted through ball by Antonio Cassano fell fortunately for Ricky Alvarez. Unfortunately for him, he pulled his shot wide of the far post while one-on-one with Brad Friedel.

Shortly after the break, Jan Vertonghen missed a golden chance to score off a free kick by Bale. However, he would atone for his error just four minutes after that, heading in a corner from Bale to put Spurs ahead 3-0. Esteban Cambiasso and Christian Chivu were caught standing still and allowed Vertonghen to have an uncontested header.

The visitors had one other great chance to score, in the 74th minute, when Rodrigo Palacio got onto the end of a through ball. He fared no better than Alvarez did with his prior one-on-one chance, putting a shot right into Friedel.

This was a very encouraging performance from Tottenham, who were brilliant on the night, but it's important to put this performance into context. Inter have been going backwards recently, and this was a horrible performance by them. Cambiasso and Walter Gargano might as well have not been there. Gargano, in particular, was very poor. Youngster Mateo Kovacic was invisible, and his replacement Fredy Guarin didn't fare much better. Alvaro Pereira looked like he had no answer for Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon.

It was just as much a poor performance from Inter as it was a brilliant performance from Spurs, hence the 3-0 scoreline that should have been bigger in favor of the hosts.

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