Tottenham 3-0 Inter Milan

By Graham ChaseBBC Sport
Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen
Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen

Gareth Bale maintained his superb scoring form to put Tottenham in control of their Europa League last-16 tie against Inter Milan.

Bale glanced in a header from Gylfi Sigurdsson's cross early on but will miss the second leg after his fourth caution of the season for diving.

Sigurdsson turned in from close range after Jermain Defoe's shot was saved.

Jan Vertonghen headed in a third from Bale's corner in the second half to give Spurs a comfortable advantage.

While manager Andre Villas-Boas will be pleased to see Bale continuing his impressive run with his 21st of the campaign, there were plenty of other positive signs from a dominant performance that led to a sixth win in seven matches.

Icelandic midfielder Sigurdsson was a constant threat on the left flank and, making his first start after a month out with an ankle problem, Defoe looked sharp in attack.

A 50th Tottenham goal, and an 11th in nine games for club and country, mean that Welshman Bale will never be short of plaudits.

But Tottenham will be without the winger, who scored three goals in a blistering performance in Spurs' 4-3 defeat in the San Siro in 2010, when they head to Italy next week, having been cautioned by Spanish referee Antonio Lahoz after going down under a Walter Gargano challenge in the area.

At least the positives continue to vastly outweigh the negatives and after an intense opening from the hosts, Bale guided a header into the corner from a Sigurdsson ball from the left.

Inter were struggling to get out of their own half and after 17 minutes they were two behind.

A neat passing move from Spurs worked space for Aaron Lennon to pull back for Defoe, whose shot was blocked by goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only for Sigurdsson to touch in.

Sigurdsson crossed for Vertonghen to have a looping header tipped over before another ball from the left saw Bale head wide.

Inter had a chance to reduce the arrears just before the interval but Ricardo Alvarez clipped wide after being sent clear by Antonio Cassano.

And they were soon made to pay after the break.

Vertonghen should have turned in from a Bale free-kick, but the Belgian made no mistake when he met Bale's corner unmarked to head in.

Bale just missed after a typical surge forward before Handonovic turned around the post from Defoe.

Lennon was also denied a fourth when he put the ball through Christian Chivu's legs only to be blocked by Handanovic.

Tottenham's goalkeeper Brad Friedel was alert enough to to race out to deny Rodrigo Palacio after a quick free-kick from Esteban Cambiasso and Spurs head to Italy in a strong position.


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