Tottenham Hotspur v Inter Milan: Five things we learned from 3-0 Europa League victory at White Hart Lane

Gareth Bale’s diving is still a problem, writes Tom Collomosse at White Hart Lane

White Hart Lane

1. Icelander Sigurdsson finally warms to his midfield task

After a difficult start at Tottenham, Gylfi Sigurdsson has done more in the last 10 days than he did in the first six months of the season. The Icelandic midfielder might have been sold to Reading in January but he came on as a substitute to score against West Ham and has not looked back since. A lively performance in the win over Arsenal was followed by an excellent display last night, especially in the first half. Sigurdsson’s sudden improvement is a real boon for Andre Villas-Boas as his team chase success both at home and abroad.

2. Where the prolific Gareth Bale starts to fall down

Unfairly targeted? Or guilty of sharp practice? When Gareth Bale fell in the penalty area under pressure from Walter Gargano during the first half, referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz clearly thought the latter, and booked Bale for diving. Bale will miss the second leg at San Siro, and the replay made uncomfortable viewing for his supporters. Bale is adamant he is hard done-by, claiming his sole aim is to avoid serious injury. Match officials, who have booked Bale four times for simulation this season, have a different view. Bale can do far more damage when upright. With 10 goals in eight games, who needs to dive?

3. Cordoba would have been more use on the pitch than on the bench

One of Internazionale’s best defenders in recent years was Ivan Cordoba. The Colombian centre-back was only 5ft 8in but was a fearless marker and a tigerish tackler. Now Inter’s general manager, he would probably be better deployed as a defensive coach, given the terrible marking that allowed Bale and Jan Vertonghen to head in the first and third goals respectively.

4. Gooner Dixon given a rough ride after being spotted in TV studio

It doesn’t matter how long ago you retired. It doesn’t matter that you are now a respected television pundit. At White Hart Lane, a former Arsenal player is always a former Arsenal player, as Lee Dixon discovered. Giving his thoughts on the game for ITV, Dixon was spotted in the studio by nearby Tottenham fans, who immediately began to taunt him without mercy. There were immediate references to Spurs’ 2-1 win in the north London derby, followed by some offensive remarks in the direction of the former England defender. As a man with Arsenal in his heart, Dixon will be more worried by Spurs’ ominous form.

5. Andre Villas-Boas has kind words for his former pupils

When they play in England, perhaps Inter pair Alvaro Pereira and Fredy Guarin are avid readers of the pre-match programme to pass the time before kick-off. If they are, they’d be aware that Villas-Boas gave them special mention for their contribution to FC Porto’s superb season in 2010-11. Villas-Boas described Pereira and Guarin as “top-quality players and great men”. Villas-Boas showed late interest in Pereira during the January transfer window and could return for his former pupil in the summer, although Pereira’s tumble under pressure from 5ft 5in Aaron Lennon suggested he wouldn’t like the physical side of our game.

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