Tournament newcomers Tottenham Hotspur FC left their fans in dreamland with a victory against FC Internazionale Milano that lifted them above the UEFA Champions League holders and into first place in Group A.
Rafael van der Vaart, Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko got the goals that rewarded some wonderful attacking football from the hosts, not least Gareth Bale who followed up his San Siro hat-trick with another thrilling display of wing play, setting up two of the goals and giving Maicon a torrid time down the left. Samuel Eto'o had given Inter a glimmer of hope when making it 2-1 ten minutes from time but this was Tottenham's night.
Tottenham's five UEFA Champions League games before tonight had yielded 25 goals and this was another open game full of positive intentions. Eto'o and Luka Modrić had already threatened at either end when the latter fashioned Spurs' opener after 18 minutes. Benoît Assou-Ekotto slipped a pass in field to the Croatian international who jinked past Sulley Muntari then slid a superb reverse pass to Van der Vaart. The Dutchman, his run timed to perfection, made no mistake with his left-footed finish.
Spurs should have had a second goal in the 25th minute when Bale sped past Maicon down the left and delivered a far-post cross that Crouch sliced wide on the volley. Inter saw more of the ball as the half came to a close and almost had their equaliser only for Carlo Cudicini, deputising for the suspended Heurelho Gomes, to tip over Wesley Sneijder's free-kick.
Both teams had to make changes – Van der Vaart did not come out for the second half while Muntari limped off soon after the restart – but the force was with Spurs. Bale hooked a shot a whisker wide with Castellazzi stranded after punching weakly under pressure from Younes Kaboul; then Castellazzi tipped over Crouch's header. On the hour Spurs got their deserved second and it was no surprise that Bale was the architect. The 21-year-old raced from the halfway line, leaving two Inter players in his wake, before crossing low for Crouch to slide the ball in ahead of Walter Samuel. The pair did it again soon after but Bale had let the ball run out of play before crossing.
Eto'o ensured some jitters when he wriggled clear of Alan Hutton on the left of the box and found the bottom corner for his seventh goal in the group but Spurs made sure two minutes from time as Bale broke free again to tee up Pavlyuchenko. There was still time for Diego Milito to hit the crossbar but it was Spurs celebrating.