Rafael van der Vaart celebrating his opener
Make all the jokes you want. I don't even care.
Tonight, Spurs were wonderful. At times, they resembled Real Madrid. Luka Modric ran the show in the middle, Rafael van der Vaart had a brilliant first half, Huddlestone was superb, Lennon had a great game, and...wait. Someone else played well. I swear to God I'm forgetting something. Our left midfielder looked pretty good, what's that guy's name again?
Oh, I remember now.
In the biggest game in the history of White Hart Lane, Gareth Bale put in one of the greatest performances in the history of White Hart Lane. He made Maicon look like a schoolboy, over and over, for 90 minutes. Not any old mediocre defender, but Maicon. Possibly the best fullback in the world. It didn't matter that Bale was often double teamed. It didn't matter that Maicon knew what his preferred moves were. Bale just beat him over and over, like a rented mule.
Bale had two assists in this match, but he should have had more. Crouch, in particular, missed one very easy chance in the first half and on a lot of other chances, we were just unlucky. It was an incredible individual performance that almost defies description. Let's revive Steinbeck and make him a footy fan. Perhaps W.C. Heinz could pen a column about this master class. Maybe then we could have an accurate depiction of what exactly Gareth Bale did tonight.
As incredible as Welsh Jesus was, the first goal was probably my favorite of them all. Luka Modric dribbled through traffic, beating a couple of defenders, and laid off a great ball in the box to Rafael van der Vaart. In classic VDV fashion, he slammed it into the back of the net. The first 18 minutes leading up to the goal were fantastic, with Spurs putting together a couple of great passing sequences. It would have been incredibly arrogant, yet surprisingly appropriate for the fans to bust out the OLE!s.
The rest of the first half passed without any scoring, but Inter looked dangerous at times. Their best opportunity was on a Wesley Sneijder free kick that Carlo Cudicini saved brilliantly. All in all, while Spurs were the better team in the first half, Inter were very dangerous in the last five minutes and everyone was happy to hear the whistle.
Rafael van der Vaart felt his hamstring tightening up a bit at the end of the half and was substituted out as a precaution. It's good to hear that he wasn't forced out and that he'll be healthy soon enough. It was unfortunate that he had to leave the game, but what was even more unfortunate was who came in for him.
I promise, this will be the only Negative Nancy thing in this post. When VDV had to come out, the man who replaced him was...drumroll...JERMAINE JENAS! Yes, the guy who was incredibly useless against Man United, marking precisely the eleventy billionth time he had put in a useless performance in a Spurs shirt. He was largely invisible and when he showed up, he gave the ball away and even got booked for diving. Jermaine Jenas sucks. Free Niko Kranjcar.
Moving on to positive things, the second goal was a thing of beauty, assisted by the one and only Welsh Jesus. He abused Maicon yet again, hit a low cross that beat Lucio and Walter Samuel, and it was easily tapped into the back of the net by Crouchaldinho. 2-0, the crowd goes wild. It was a well deserved assist for Bale who, to that point, had done everything but score or assist on a goal. He was inarguably the best player on the pitch and got an assist to go along with it.
Of course, Inter couldn't go away quietly. In the 80th minute, Samuel Eto'o decided to make things interesting with a goal of his own. Honestly, it was a pretty good individual effort and a well deserved goal for about the only Inter Milan player who played up to his ability for most of the match. At 2-1, suddenly we had a game again. Inter were unable to bring back a point, though, as Spurs would add one more.
Welsh Jesus struck again, this time with a cross to substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko who, like van der Vaart and Crouch before him, had an easy finish to make it 3-1. Yet again, Bale put the ball on a silver platter and beat the entire Inter defense by himself. 3-1, 89th minute, game over. Elvis has left the building.
It was one of the greatest performances ever in possibly the biggest game ever. We beat Inter Milan. The European champions. The real European champions. We're now first in our Champions League group. Really, we're first in our Champions league group.
We're first in our Champions League group.
Bring on the DVD.