Teams:Spurs: Cudicini; Hutton, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; CrouchSubs: Pletikosa, Jenas, Pavlyuchenko, Keane, Palacios, Bassong, Kranjcar
Inter: Castellazzi; Maicon, Lucio, Smaeul, Chivu; Zanetti, Muntari; Pandev, Sneijder, Biabiany; Eto'oSubs: Oralndoni, Cordoba, Milito. Materazzi, Coutinho, Santon, Nwankwo
Referee: Viktor Kassi (a Hungarian travel agent whose interests, according to his official Uefa biog, include films and sport. It's quite handy that he's interested in sport, all things considered).
Temperature: 11 C Humidity: 80%
Preamble:It's great when a spot of last-ditch cramming pays off, like when you decided to finally glance at your textbook on the morning of your big school exam and the one topic you thus prepared cropped up in the first question, giving you a giddy sense that you might actually make the grade. Harry Redknapp must have a similar feeling tonight, prompted by his last-minute-of-the-transfer-window recruit, Rafael van der Vaart, who has become integral to Tottenham and returns to action this evening after missing the first game against Inter through suspension. Avoid a red card in the first four minutes and a pan-team brain-freeze and Tottenham might just upset the European champions this evening. But probably not. Either way, the presence of two more attacking conjurers than there was in the first leg (Van der Vaart and Modric, who was subbed off early doors because of Gomes's expulsion) means this should be cracking entertainment. And that's why we must be thankful that Tottenham made it into the Champions League this season rather than Manchester City, Liverpool or Villa. Tottenham tend to attack with gusto. Tonight's first emailer, Michael Aston, seems to agree: "I predict a 5-4 victory for Spurs." Me, I'm saying 3-1 to Inter, with Smauel Eto'o - the best striker in activity in the world today - plundering at least two and William Gallas getting sent off for two bookable offences, one of them a melodramatic protest about a throw-in wrongly awarded to the opposition.
Odd odds: Apparently hysterical London-based optimism has swept through internet betting sites and a mountain of money has been placed on Spurs to triumph here, meaning Inter, the European champions, are available at 2-1! You can't say fairer than that.
More predictions: Many more of you have written in with sentiments similar to this, from Johnny Panther. "This is clearly going to be 3-0 at half time, and 3-3 at full time. It's almost a certainty with Spurs in Europe this season." This consensus is making me doubt. I still say it'll be a goal-fest but I'm not sure any more that I believe it, making me, I suppose, a bit like the outspoken Audley Harrison ahead of his clash with David Haye.
There's some people on the pitch ... and they're the players. Not long to go now, then.
7:43pm: "Please tell me I made the right move not to accept an £80 ticket for tonight's Lane entertainment," pleads Daniel Monty. "I usually end up regrettingthese sort of decisions. I can assume you'll keep us entertained whatever." That was a silly thing to turn down if it was on offer for free. And a very risky assumption.
1 min: An agreably rowdy atmosphere down Haringey way as Tottenham get the game in motion ...
2 min: It's still 0-0. That's progress for Spurs. And just as I write that, Bale recieves the ball for the first time and is immediately confronted by Maicon, whose hustling is enough to pressure the Welshman into letting the ball run out of play.
3 min: Decent cross from Assou-Ekotto, forcing Muntari to head behind for a corner. Van der Vaart delivers but Inter clear comfortably. Still, a bright start by the home team.
4 min: Senijder collects the ball wide on the left and goes for goal ... but shanks his shot miles wide.
5 min: The g ame is hurtling along at a cracking tempo and is pleasingly open even if neither side has created a proper shooting opportunity so far.
6 min: Raking cross from the right by Hutton but Lucio, one of the greatest defendnrs of all time, nods clear.
7 min: Ooooh! Kaboul stands off Eto'o and is nearly made to regret it as the Cameroonian shimmies and shoots from 25 yards, his ferocious shot fizzing inches past the post.
8 min: Assou-Ekotto seeks Crouch with another cross towards the back post. Anticipating the BFG winning it, Van der Vaart darts into the area of the expected nod-down ... but Crouch misdirects his header.
9 min: A squeal of excitement around the Lane as Modric feints his way past Samuel and winds up a shot from 20 yards. But the Croatian doesn't catch it properly so it's a simple save for the second-choice Inter keeper.
11 min: To all of you complaining about the lack of auto-refresh on this page, know that the problem is now sorted. Thank you for your concern.
12 min: Bale gets up a gallop for the first time in the match ... and duly speeds past Maicon before forcing a decent save from Castellazzi with a low rasper from 20 yards.
14 min: Eto'o again spreads panic in the Tottenham defence but Kaboul harassed him into over-running the ball, allowing Cudicini to pounce on it gratefully.
15 min: Bale absolutely skins Maicon down the left again, but Lucio hares across to poke the ball behind for a corner, which is cleared. But there's no sign of Inter attempting to double up on Bale so far, and Spurs will presumably feed him at every opportunity now because he looks in scorching form.
16 min: Lennon hoists one up to the back post, Crouch flicks back to where Van der Vaart would have been ... had he not dashed forward in anticipation of it landing somewhere else. But Tottenham are looking good at the mo. "I was really looking forward to settling in and watching tonight's game," admits Alex Wilson. "However, I've just been informed that one of my friends has upped sticks and run off to Birmingham with early naughties pop-punk sensations Sum 41. As a result, I'm understandably distracted." Indeed. Do keep us posted of your mate's hijinks. And, I wonder, has anyone else any tales of friends of family absconding with well-known rockers or popsters? Anyone's granny run off to a Sioux reservation with Hawkwind, for instance?
GOAL! Spurs 1-0 Inter (Van der Vaart 18') That's a lovely goal and fair reward for Tottenham's splendid start. And it was all about the two players of whom Spurs were deprived in the San Siro. Luka Modric was the inspiration, recieving the ball from Assou-Ekotto about 30 yards, riding one tackle and slipping a canny pass through to Van der Vaart, who smashed past the keeper from 12 yards.
19 min: Cudicini has to surge off his line to prevent Pandev from latching on to a long through-ball.
21 min: Bale flies down the left again, leaving Maicon floundering in his wake, but his cross goes beyond Crouch. Lennon tries to connect but can't get it under control due to the presence of Chivu, who heads him in the arse. Unorthodox, but effective apparently. Feel free to try that at home, folks.
23 min: Hutton and Gallas converge on Sneijder around the box and the little Dutchman falls to the ground. Never a freekick.
25 min: That's brilliant from Bale - not complicated, but utterly devastating the way he sprints past Maicon, yet again, down the left and delivers a sumptuous cross. Crouch should score ... but blazes wide from six yards when a calm sidefooter was all that was required!
27 min: Zanetti has a go from 30 yards ... and succeeds only in eliciting delighted jeers from the home crowd.
28 min: More fine play from Spurs, who are playing this game at a million miles an hour, much to the discomfort of the visitors. Bale is inevitably involved, spanking a diagonal pass to the Lennon on the other wing. Billy Whizz's little brother scurries past Chivu and fires a vicious ball across the face of goal. Lucio clears in extremis. "Pete Doherty played at Trinity College Ball a few years ago, a girl in my Law class spent some time talking with him after," claims Kevin Hegarty. "She reappeared two weeks later looking suitably jaded."
31 min: Inter knock the ball around, trying to slow things down a bit and deflate Spurs' verve.
33 min: Samuel block a Bale shot and the ball breaks to Biabiany, one of the most impressive Inter players so far. The young Frenchman slaloms forward before passing to Muntari. A few passes later and Inter are on the edge of the Spurs' box, until Kaboul steps in to bring an end to a dangerous move.
35 min: There can be no more emphatic way to earn a yellow card than bringing down Lennon in the way that Samuel has just done. Freekick to Spurs about 25 yards, near the right-hand corner of the box. Van der Vaart's shot skims off the wall and over for a corner.
38 min: Sneijder wastes some fine Inter play by shooting from a preposterous angle, offering Cudicini an easy save.
39 min: Eto'o tricks his way past Hutton on the left wing before the Scotsman pulls him back. Another deserved booking.
40 min: Kaboul does just enough to prevent Lucio from applying a proper header to Sniejder's in-swinging freekick, allowing Cudicini to make a comfortable save.
41 min: Crouch nods down to Van der Vaart, who lays back to Huddlestone, who slashes well wide from 26 yards.
42 min: Inter are becoming more threatening and Eto'o is pivotal. So pivotal, in fact, that Gallas decided to take him down as the seemed poised to wriggle through the entire Tottenham defence at the edge of the box. That's a freekick in a very dangerous position. Sneijder arrows one towards the top corner ... and Cudicini makes an excellent save!
43 min: Bale is taking the mickey too, outfoxing Muntari with an extravagant drag-back before dinking the ball to Modric. That restores some jubilation to a crowd that had started to quiver nervously as Inter gained the upper hand. "Given their respective performances, are Bale & Hutton the footballing personification of the existence of Yin & Yang in the universe?" wonders Nick Pettitgrew.
Half-time: A splendid first half from Tottenham, who started like a cyclone and got the goal their pressure deserved, and then withstood a menacing fightback from Inter. "I was at that Trinity Ball that Kevin Hegarty mentioned on 28 mins," brags Brian Murphy. "A bloke stood in front of the stage and, in an impressive feat of endurance, flipped the bird at Doherty for the entire set. Just stood there, alone, and held it right up there. Kate Moss and Doherty had a go at him as soon as he was off stage. Also that girl in Kev's class must be a genius/lunatic. Or genius lunatic: The Trinity Ball is two weeks before the end of year exams."
Intrigue: Word on Sky is that Van der Vaart may not reappear for the second half as his troublesome hamstring has flared up again. Go on Harry, bring on Robbie Keane, I dare you. "I too was at the Trinity Ball that night," blurts Andrew Booth, heightening the suspicion that some sort of class reunion is taking place right here on your humble mbm. "Doherty and Moss turned up with Huey from the Fun Lovin' Criminals (who owns a few businesses in Dublin) and Shane McGowan, who surely is some hellish future version of Doherty."
46 min: Spurs sub: Van der Vaart off, Jenas on.
47 min: It's been 13 games since Spurs kept a clean sheet. Just sayin'.
48 min: Cudicini charges out of his box to welly a Pandev pass clear. Good thing he did, because Sneijder was lurking ominously. "To reply to the Yin & Yang comment: Bale and Hutton are very similar, supposive full backs who can't defend and are good going foward," asserts Olie Moffit. "The only difference is that 'arry hasn't realised that Hutton can't defend." You're wrong, Ollie, Redknapp has continually and publicly berated Hutton for his slack positional play. And what the hell does 'supposive' mean?
50 min: CHivu booked for pulling back Lennon, who was going to get away from him down the right. "Those Trinity heads are spoiled rotten with their rock stars," whines Cormac Hayes. "We would be lucky to see the Saw Doctors up here in DCU. Meanwhile, I am stuck in the library trying to study populism in South America, missing what sounds like a cracking game. Spurs will do a Liverpool and win it this year."
51 min: Muntari is down complaiming about a sore calf. The ref beckons for the medics to come help him .. but Sneijder is less sympathetic, stomping over to tell the Ghanaian to get up out of that.
52 min: Loveley effort by Bale! The keeper came to punch a long freekick to the edge of the area. Bale trapped it and then, with his back to gaol, sent the ball looping back over the keeper and just inches wide!
53 min: Inter change: Muntari off, Nwankwo on, a Nigerian who used to play for Wikki Tourists, which sounds like some sort of cyber nerdgang. But isn't.
55 min: Jenas finds Hutton racing down the right and the Scot crosses first time to the penalty spot, where Crouch gets off a header that the keeper pushes, ratehr unnecessarily, over the bar. "I have a feeling that Spurs should have won the game in the first half, frets Lee James. "As much as I enjoy Crouch I really struggle to understand how Pavyluchenko hasn't become the No1 striker by now- in lieu of a £20m striker. Nevermind, Jenas will doubtlessly win the game by himself using his mysterious neither-attacking-defending-nor-box-to-box midfield role - a Jonathan Wilson-article of a player." I reckon Crouch retains his place because of the understanding he has formed with Van der Vaart, who revolves around him to good effect.
56 min: Spurs remain largely on the front foot, a fact exemplified by Gallas popping up in the Inter box to meet a Lennon cross. He sidefoots just wide. "I was also at the Trinity College Ball," drawls Mike Hanton. ."I actually wasn't but I reckon that's as close to participating in the final scene of Spartacus as I'm ever going to come."
59 min: Well played Kaboul, who stepped into to intercept a menacing-looking Zanetti ball. "Inter Milan must be spending some serious shekels to have Zanetti cryogenically frozen between games," gushes David Fallon. "Totally worth it though."
GOAL! Spurs 2-0 Inter (Crouch 60') It all came from that Kaboul interception, but Bale's role was the most crucial, as he scorched all the way down the left win yet again and served up a delicious ball that simply compelled Crouch to poke it into the net from close range! That's some straight-up deadliness.
NO GOAL! But it was mighty close! Bale again humiliated Maicon down the left before firing across goal. A Spur poked it into the net but, alas, the linesman had flagged - the ball had gone out of play just before Bale crossed. Meanwhile, Jonathan Wilson has no plans to solve the Jermain Jenas riddle any time soon, the tease. "No idea what Jenas is," explains the boy Wilson, who has special antennae that alert him to any mention of his name or a tactical query. "He's in that category of player that managers keep picking but nobody can see the point of. See also Martin DeMichelis."
65 min: Hutton crosses to Castellazzi, which is nice of him.
67 min: Inter look a little shellshocked and have taken to stroking the ball around at the back as if to catch a breather. Tottenham are happy to let them to do that for moment, what with being two goals to the good. "Talking of mingling with the rock stars, I went to see Youtube sensations and catchy pop-rock 4-piece OK Go at Manchester Academy 3 last year," warbles JC in Fleetwood. "They called out for someone who could play guitar to help them play there biggest hit 'Here It Goes Again'. Me with a few ciders down me and no knowledge of guitars shouts out and puts my hands up. I get the front and whilst the lead singer is singing I was asked to play a continual melody. I failed. I ruined the song. They laughed. Crowd laughed. Girl I was with laughed. I was ashamed."
69 min: Inter change: Milito on, Pandev off. "Well, now that the Saw Doctors have been mentioned, they hang out in my local pub near Times Square whenever they play New York," boasts John Duffy. "But that's probably because the keyboard player is my baby brother." Like getting your kid brother drunk, do you John? Tut-tut.
71 min: World-class play from Jenas. A really top quality dive, which the ref spotted without any trouble, leaving Jenas looking rather embarrassed.
73 min: Spurs are defending very well. Inter are starting to probe but whenever they get into the cherished fabled third a Tottenham player steps in to snuff out the danger. Their victory is looking safe at the moment.
75 min: Spurs change: Crouch off, Pavlyuchenko on to tremendous applause. "Well I'm happy my betting form carried over to my lack of Crouch support," sniffs Lee James. "As a Saints fan I'm pretty happy either way. Currently we have a 17-year old with two goals tonight; hopefully Spurs will leave him be until he reaches 20. On that note- Gareth Bale must surely be fighting with Nani as the most destructive player in English football right now? Also, Impressed that Jenas has foxed Mr. Wilson; considering he has been consistently linked with sides like Inter I assumed it was something that my simple eye couldn't see."
77 min: It's so easy for Bale: again he just nudges the ball past Maicon and chases it, leaving the Brazilian huffing and puffing behind him. This time, however, a team-m,ate actually comes over to help Maicon out. You know, for all his professed tactical brilliance, Benitez seemingly hasn't instructed his team to double up on Bale tonight or do anything at all different to stop him following his hat-trick the last time the teams met. "If Robbie Keane comes on tonight (which he won't) and scores (which he won't) that means he would have scored against every team he has ever played for if you understand," dribbles Jermaine O'Leary. "His tradition has been not to celebrate under those circumstances. It will be interesting to see if he does celebrate if he scores (but he won't score)."
GOAL! Spurs 2-1 Inter (Eto'o 80') That's a superb goal from Eto'o. It made space for himself with the sheer speed of his feet and then curled a low shot past the keeper from the edge of the box. Game on!
81 min: Coutinho goes down easily in the vicinity of Kaboul, because he knew he wasn't going to get to the ball before Cudicini. The ref sees through the youngster's wiles.
83 min: Bale's dominance is getting comical! He ghosted past Zanetti on half-way just now ... and Zanetti simply fell over, presumably so as to have an excuse not to chase the Welsh whizz.
85 min: Tottenham are going to try to shore things up a little. Off comes Lennon for Palacios. Lennon has played well tonight, a welcome return to form.
86 min: To the delight of the Spurs faithful, Lucio cops a booking for arguing about the award of a throw-in to the opposition. Well, as the preamble shows, I knew that would happen one of the centrebacks on display tonight.
87 min: Castellazzi launches the ball upfield, but Gallas sends it back. "Thanks for putting the mockers on us by saying 'their victory is looking safe at the moment'" bawls Blair McCarthy. "Now I'm going to be sweating at my keyboard in New Zealand for the next 10 mins." Yeah, yeah, you're just looking for an explanation for that fluid on your keyboard.
GOAL! Spurs 3-1 Inter (Pavlyuchenko 89') That is just outlandish from Bale! He received the ball around the half-way line and simply belted it 20 yards beyond Maicon and set off after it. He got there first and, best of all, played the perfect pass across the face of goal, inviting Pavlyuchenko to smash it simply past the keeper. Bale has blown Inter away tonight.
90 min: A Milito shot from 20 yards skims the bar, causing a momentary hiatus in the joyous din around the Lane.
Full-time: Tottenham deservedly beat the European champions. In fact, they blew them away. They were too fast, too strong, too sharp for Inter, no one more so than Gareth Bale, about whom folks will be raving all over Europe again. Tremendous entertainment, made all the better by the presence of you, dear readers. Thanks for tuning in, and for sending emails. Bye. Please call again.
This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.