Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Steven Beacom: Gareth Bale moves Inter big league with a Messi display

There was a time when Tottenham fans winced when they heard that Gareth Bale was in their team. You see, in his first two years at White Hart Lane, he didn't play in a winning side in the Premier League.



Remarkably it wasn't until his 25th match for Spurs that he discovered what it was like to savour a Premiership victory in a white shirt. He could hardly take any credit for it though, coming on as a late substitute.

There was talk last summer that Bale would leave, having failed to make any impact since his move from Southampton in 2007.

How things can change. A Tottenham team without Bale is unthinkable now.

Quite simply he has become their best player. That's some accolade with gifted stars such as Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric at the club.

In fact he's not just the top man at Spurs, he's the finest in England at the moment.

Bale has given two world class performances in his last two Champions League matches.

Not just against any old team, but against the European champions!

He ripped the Inter Milan defence to shreds in the San Siro, scoring one of the greatest hat-tricks in the history of the competition.

The downside was it came in a losing cause with Inter 4-0 up when Bale began to wreak havoc.

There was no downside at White Hart Lane last night though as the Welshman tortured and tormented Brazilian Maicon, supposedly one of the best right-backs in the world, to inspire Spurs to a famous |3-1 victory.

It was a joy watching Bale, with his pace, his power and the poise to pick out the perfect cross.

After Modric and Van der Vaart had combined brilliantly to give the home side a deserved first half lead, Bale took charge.

Gliding over the lush turf, leaving defenders in his wake, he lit up the Lane in scintillating fashion. Just as impressive he produced inviting deliveries for Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko to tap home, rendering Samuel Eto'o's fine strike worthless.

The best left wingers that Britain has produced in the past 25 years have been Johnny Barnes and Ryan Giggs.

This kid could be up there with them. Bear in mind he is only 21.

Tottenham will find it as hard to hold on to him as Inter did last night.

Redknapp, of course, entered this match under the dark cloud of his cutting comments about referee Mark Clattenburg following Nani's controversial goal at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The big baby even threatened to take his ball home, saying he would refuse to speak to the media after games if the FA charged him.

Funny, he couldn't stop talking after the victory which all but takes Spurs through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

As for his counterpart Rafael Benitez, it wasn't a happy return to England for him, especially with Crouch, who left Liverpool because the Spaniard hardly played him, on target.

Before the match Rafa was slamming current Anfield boss Roy Hodgson and going on about priests and sugar mountains. No, I didn't understand it either.

Perhaps he should have been thinking more about stopping Gareth Bale. Then again that was probably impossible. Lionel Messi would have been proud to have played like Bale last night. Yes, he really was that good.

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