Ten-man Spurs lose in Milan

Inter Milan 4 Tottenham 3

Gareth Bale's stunning second-half hat-trick spared 10-man Tottenham's blushes but failed to prevent them slumping to their first Champions League Group A defeat at Inter Milan tonight.

Spurs looked set to be humiliated when holders Inter raced to a 4-0 lead inside 35 minutes through goals from Javier Zanetti, a Samuel Eto'o penalty - after Heurelho Gomes had been sent off - Dejan Stankovic and Eto'o again.



But Bale almost completed a sensational comeback single-handedly, scoring one of the goals of the season before netting twice in the closing seconds to further enhance his burgeoning reputation.



Despite Bale's exploits, the defeat was a reality check for manager Harry Redknapp, who had vowed to stick to his attacking principles.



After watching his side ship eight goals in three European away games this season, he must surely make them harder to beat on their travels.



Tonight's game was arguably Tottenham's most prestigious since they last rubbed shoulders with the elite of Europe in 1962.



But they looked anything but at home in this company in a calamitous opening 14 minutes that saw them three goals and a man down.



Inter to cut them to shreds in just 70 seconds, easily drawing Alan Hutton out of position and allowing Eto'o to feed Zanetti, who expertly curled the ball beyond Gomes.



Spurs tried to settle but Gomes was sent off six minutes later.



Wesley Sneijder played a delightful ball inside Benoit Assou-Ekotto to Jonathan Biabiany and Gomes came rushing out and brought down the Inter winger.



Referee Damir Skomina inexplicably showed a red card to Assou-Ekotto before his assistants helped him rectify the decision.



Tottenham sacrificed Luka Modric - who had been playing off Peter Crouch in the 'Rafael van der Vaart role' - for substitute keeper Carlo Cudicini.



Eto'o eventually stepped up in the 11th minute to beat the Italian from the spot.



Inter were merciless and, as 10-man Spurs retreated to the edge of their box, a lovely passing move ended with Stankovic slipping the ball past an unsighted Cudicini.



Tottenham had already recovered from such a dramatic collapse in their Champions League rookie season but Inter were anything but Young Boys.



The Italians' perfect start was spoilt when Christian Chivu - wearing Peter Cech-style headgear - was cautioned for an untidy tackle on Aaron Lennon.



Stankovic twice went close to a fourth and Crouch should have pulled a goal back when he headed over Lennon's fine left-foot cross.



But the embarrassment soon resumed, Coutinho given an age to pick out Eto'o's run in behind the visiting defence 10 minutes from the break.



Cudicini got hands on the in-form Cameroon striker's finish but not enough to keep it out. The keeper also spilled shots from Coutinho and Maicon before the break but recovered well.



Inter lost Stankovic to injury in the opening moments of the second half and, when it was briefly 10 against 10, Lennon's latest cross narrowly missed the head of Tom Huddlestone.



Davide Santon eventually restored the hosts to full strength but when the next goal came, it went to Spurs - and it was a beauty.



Bale carried the ball from inside his own half, brilliantly beating two players before finding the corner of the net with a stunning finish.



Normal service quickly resumed and Santon forced a good near-post save from Cudicini.



Sneijder went close to matching Bale's effort before Assou-Ekotto wasted more fine work from the winger with a horrible finish.



The hosts withdrew Chivu for Goran Pandev just past the hour mark, with Spurs following midway through the half when former Inter striker Robbie Keane replaced Crouch.



Inter's final change saw Ivan Cordoba introduced for Biabiany, with Spurs soon responding by withdrawing Huddlestone for the combative Wilson Palacios, who perhaps should have started.



Coutinho went close from outside the box in the closing minutes, Hutton curled over from similar range and Palacios was booked for a poor tackle on Lucio.



What followed was the most incredible of finishes as Bale netted in the 90th and 91st minutes to complete his hat-trick.



The winger produced a carbon-copy strike to his opening goal before scoring again in stoppage-time to set up the briefest of grandstand finishes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore