Tottenham in cruise control as they beat Inter Milan 3-0 at White Hart Lane
Tottenham have become favourites to lift the Europa Cup this season after a world-class display against former champions Inter Milan. The English side showed ruthless performance to claim a healthy 3-0 lead ahead of their second leg meeting with the Italian side at San Siro in six days time.
The home side took the lead just after five minutes through Gareth Bale’s powerful header. The Welshman has now scored 11 in his last 9 appearances for his club, this being his 50th so far. Bale got up early to get on the end of a cross from Sigurdsson to put Spurs ahead. Just ten minutes after scoring, the 23-year old got himself booked for diving. Bale went down easily after minor contact with Walter Gargano in the penalty area and the Spanish referee Antonio Lahoz was quick to flash a yellow card. Gareth Bale will therefore miss the return leg on 14th March.
Inter Milan were playing very uncharacteristic conservative football and were hesitant to challenge the Tottenham defence. Less than 20 minutes played and the 18-times Serie A champions were trailing by a 2 goal deficit. This time it was Sigurdsson whose quick thinking doubled the home side’s lead after Defoe’s initial attempt was saved by Handanovic.
Tottenham carried their momentum into the second half and seven minutes after restart they found the back of the net once again. Unmarked Jan Vertonghen heading from Bale’s perfectly measured corner to put themselves in a strong position to progress into the quarter finals of the Europa League.
Andre Villas Boas who still remains the youngest ever manager to win the Europa League with Porto during his 2011 campaign, has denied that Tottenham are safely through to the last eight as he claimed that to travel to San Siro to get the job done “will be very difficult”.
Elsewhere, Chelsea had a disappointing night after a 1-0 defeat to Steaua Bucharest. The Champions League winners of last year created only handful of half-chances through Juan Mata mainly, but a 34th minute penalty from Raul Rusescu means that Chelsea will have it all to do at Stamford Bridge next week. A foul by Ryan Bertrand brought the Romanian striker down and even though Peter Cech guessed the right way he couldn’t prevent the 24-year-old from converting his 23rd goal of the season.
Newcastle United kept a clean sheet at Anzhi Makhachkala in an eventless draw at Dynamo Stadium. The Magpies’ keeper was only tested once during the 94 minutes, with a long-range effort from Samuel Eto’o. Alan Pardew will have been happy to have the second leg played at St. James’ Park in front of the home crowd which could motivate Newcastle players to advance into last eight.
Umida Ibrahimova, sports correspondent