Tottenham Hotspur FC survived a red card for Rafael van der Vaart to beat UEFA Champions League Group A rivals FC Twente 4-1 with the help of two second-half Roman Pavlyuchenko penalties.
Spurs fans had waited 48 years to see Europe's elite competition again and they got no shortage of drama on its return to White Hart Lane. After Van der Vaart's first-half penalty was saved, the second period produced a rush of goals. Van der Vaart and Pavlyuchenko, from the spot, both scored within five minutes of the restart before substitute Nacer Chadli pulled a goal back. Even with ten men, Pavlyuchenko's second spot-kick eased any Spurs nerves, leaving Gareth Bale to add a fourth late on.
Harry Redknapp's decision to go with two strikers – Pavkyuchenko partnering Peter Crouch – offered a statement of his intent but Twente were equally positive. Their sizeable away following were singing loudly in the rain and they almost had an early goal to cheer when Bryan Ruiz broke away from Sébastien Bassong and ran clear. However, the Costa Rican international failed to get enough weight on his attempted lob and Heurelho Gomes, on his first appearance since August, saved one-handed.
At the other end Van der Vaart tested Nikolay Mihaylov with a low, angled drive. Chances came and went until, four minutes before the break, Mihaylov foiled Van der Vaart again, this time from the spot after Peter Wisgerhof pulled down Crouch. Mihaylov guessed the direction of Van der Vaart's kick, turning the ball on to the post, and soon after tipped over the Dutchman's volley.
Two minutes into the second half, Van der Vaart finally got the better of Mihaylov. Huddlestone aimed a diagonal ball to Crouch, who nodded on for him to control on his chest before lashing a left-foot volley into the corner. Three minutes later Pavlyuchenko made it two by succeeding where Van der Vaart had failed, sending Mihaylov the wrong way after Roberto Rosales had tripped Gareth Bale.
With an unbeaten record to preserve this season, Twente responded with Chadli prodding in from close range following Theo Janssen's ball into the box. Spurs' lead looked even less secure in the 61st minute when Van der Vaart received a second yellow card for clattering into Rosales. However, Twente's hopes of capitalising were undone by the award of a third penalty for handball, when Pavlyuchenko's shot struck Nicky Kuiper and the Russian duly chipped in. Douglas denied Luka Modrić with a superb tackle but his wayward header then set up Bale to slide in Spurs' fourth.