|TOTTENHAM PRODUCE MASTERCLASS AS CHELSEA LOSE IN ROMANIA
SportingPreview.com: 8 March 2013
Tottenham produced a masterclass in beating Inter Milan 3-0 at White Hart Lane in the Europa League on Thursday night.
Gareth Bale came back to haunt Inter once again after initially grabbing the world's attention when he tore Inter apart in the Champions League. Andre Villas-Boas warned Inter on Wednesday that the Welshman had improved immeasurably in the two years, four months and five days that had passed since the famous "Taxi for Maicon" night at White Hart Lane - and he was proven right.
Bale nodded home Gylfi Sigurdsson's cross to put Spurs ahead after just five minutes and he set up Jan Vertonghen for the hosts' third after Sigurdsson himself had scored the second.
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Bale missed two chances to match the hat-trick he scored in the San Siro two seasons ago, but in the end it did not matter as Spurs completely dominated a poor Inter team.
Although questions will be raised about Bale going to ground too easily again after he was booked for diving, the fact that he will miss next week's return leg will not trouble Villas-Boas, who knows his side are all but guaranteed to be in the last eight of the competition thanks to Thursday night's result.
Rafael Benitez's Chelsea suffered a lacklustre defeat to Steaua Bucharest at the National Arena.
In the first of two games in four days and the Blues' 50th game of a turbulent season, last season's Champions League winners went behind after 34 minutes when Ryan Bertrand was penalised for pulling back Raul Rusescu, who converted the spot-kick.
Just like Sunday's opponents Manchester United, Chelsea warmed up for the FA Cup quarter-final with a European defeat, but at least their rivals were defeated by Real Madrid. The result in the Romanian capital will only serve to increase the pressure on interim manager Benitez.
Fernando Torres had an absolute stinker and looked disinterested throughout.
Hatem Ben Arfa passed up a golden opportunity to celebrate his 26th birthday in style as Newcastle claimed a hard-fought Europa League draw in Moscow.
The Frenchman, making his first appearance since tearing a hamstring at Fulham on December 10, was played in on goal by compatriot Yohan Cabaye with 64 minutes gone, but could not beat goalkeeper Vladimir Gabulov with an ambitious chipped effort.
An away goal would have seen the Magpies take a significant step towards the quarter-finals, although had keeper Rob Elliot, once again deputising for the injured Tim Krul, not made two excellent saves from Samuel Eto'o either side of half-time, Anzhi Makhachkala could have been heading for St James' Park next week with a lead to defend.
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