Gareth Bale scores and dives as on-a-roll Spurs beat Inter 3-0
Welshman will miss the second leg of European tie at San Siro; Chelsea lose 0-1 in Bucharest
Tottenham 3 Inter Milan 0. Spurs' dream season continued as they put Inter Milan to the sword on what Andre Villas-Boas described as a "great night of European football for us".
In front of a euphoric White Hart Lane crowd, goals from Gareth Bale, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen gave Spurs a 3-0 advantage to take to Italy for the return leg of their Europa League clash. It would take an astonishing reversal in fortunes for Inter to qualify for the last eight of the tournament having been so comprehensively outplayed in the first leg.
"It was a very good performance and a great night of European football for us," said Villas-Boas, although he stressed they still have to get through a game at the San Siro. "It doesn't mean that we're through yet as we still have to go there and it's a difficult place to go. We just hope we can do enough to qualify."
The only sour note for Spurs was a yellow card for diving for Bale, ruling the Welshman out of the second leg next week. "We will miss Gareth because he's been influential in consecutive games, but we hope we can make it without him and go through to the last eight," said Villas-Boas.
Bale had given Spurs the perfect start with a goal on six minutes – his 21st of the season – and when Vertonghen added a third seven minutes after the interval a rout looked likely. Inter didn't concede a fourth but coach Andrea Stramaccioni admitted "it is going to be very hard" to overturn the scoreline in the second leg.
Meanwhile Chelsea, the club who fired Villas-Boas last season after barely six months in charge, continue to flounder with the reigning Champions League holders going down 1-0 to Steaua Bucharest in Romania. Raul Rusescu scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Ryan Bertrand.
"We are disappointed, but still we have the belief we will win at home," said interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez, who described the penalty decision as "soft".
Newcastle's hopes of reaching the last eight of the Europa League are still very much alive after they held Anzhi Makhachkala to a goalless draw in Russia. In a dour encounter, the Magpies' hero was goalkeeper Rob Elliot, who twice denied Samuel Eto'o on Anzhi's synthetic pitch.
"It was an absolutely outstanding performance, on a pitch and in conditions that really didn't suit us," said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew. "We've given ourselves an opportunity to win at home and I fancy us against anybody at home. This is an optimum competition for us." ·