Bale dive the only blot as Spurs stroll
Tottenham were too quick, too good and too potent for an anaemic Inter Milan side and all but booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Two seasons after "taxi for Maicon", Spurs fans expanded the target of their taunt to "Taxi for Inter."
It was sad to see such a famous club as Inter so devoid of belief and class.
Serie A's fourth-placed team were second best from back to front. There was so much to enjoy in Spurs' display. Mousa Dembele, Scott Parker and Gylfi Sigurdsson all impressed.
Gareth Bale inevitably scored, this time a header, but his night's work was tarnished by another caution for simulation which rules him out of the second leg. Jan Vertonghen had little to do defensively and had time and space to score in the second half.
It was particularly satisfying for Andre Villas-Boas who spent part of the period before kick-off greeting old friends from Inter. It has been a good few days for Villas-Boas, winning the North London derby and defeating Inter.
Inter had known all about Bale, following his skewering of Maicon and hat-trick in the San Siro. He reminded them again quickly last night, scoring another goal from his central station.
Spurs were full of movement in attack, Bale, Defoe and Sigurdsson interchanging, occasionally Aaron Lennon.
Sigurdsson has been in more assertive form of late, a reality confirmed within six minutes here. Cleverly creating space for a cross out on the left, the Icelandic international lifted in the ball for Bale, timing his arrival well, to flick a header across Samir Handanovic and in.
"Gareth Bale, he scores when he wants,'' chorused the Spurs fans.
Inter's area was under siege. Handanovic saved from Defoe and Bale before the less appealing side of Bale was seen after 15 minutes. Running into the Inter box, Bale started falling, sensing the chasing figure of Walter Gargano. Any contact came after Bale was advertising the laws of gravity.
It was a clear dive, immediately spotted by the Spanish referee, Antonio Mateu Lahoz. Bale looked crestfallen, having expected a penalty. Instead he had his ticket to the second leg in the San Siro ripped up. It was so unnecessary as Bale had escaped from Gargano, started dropping, leaving his foot back, creating the contact. This was his fourth caution of the season for simulation.
Spurs added a second within three minutes of Bale's dive, a splendid strike full of quick movement.
Dembele strode through midfield, slipping the ball right to Lennon. The England winger scampered in that high-speed pitter-patter way of his towards the byline, looking up twice to assess his team-mates' whereabouts.
He easily picked out Defoe, who turned Andrea Ranocchia, the Inter centre-half. Defoe's shot required some quick thinking by Sigurdsson, who leapt out of the way. As Handanovic pushed the ball out, Sigurdsson calmly stroked in the rebound.
Zanetti is 39, still influential, but Inter were as unrecognisable as their red strip. "Are you Arsenal in disguise?" inquired the Spurs fans of their visitors.
Spurs searched for a third after the interval. Bale was fouled by Alvaro Pereira on the right, and took the free-kick which Vertonghen almost turned in. Their next link-up from a dead-ball was more productive. Bale curled in corner from the right, and Vertonghen headed in. (© Daily Telegraph, London)