Three years ago Inter Milan were the champions of Europe, today they were flat out embarrassed by Tottenham 3-0 at White Hart Lane. Oh, the times they are a-changin'.
Spurs got off a lively start and were rewarded for their efforts with an early goal.
Gylfi Sigurdsson made a great cut back on the left wing to shake off the attention of two Inter players in the 6th minute before sending a cross into the penalty area. Gareth Bale was waiting and rose to meet the ball, catching Esteban Cambiasso completely off guard, before heading it past Samir Handanovic. A wonderful ball from Gylfi and a wonderful finish from Bale.
If the actual goal wasn't impressive enough consider the fact that it was Bale's 14th goal in his last 14 games. There might not be a player in the world in better form than the Welshman at the moment.
Bale was involved in another important incident in 15th minute after he appeared to trip over his own feet in the Inter penalty area. The referee, who was miles away, wasted no time awarding Bale a reputation-based yellow card that will force him to sit out the return leg in Italy for card accumulation.
With that in mind it became even more important for Spurs to score more goals in this home tie. They didn't wait long.
In the 19th minute Aaron Lennon found Jermain Defoe in the center of the Inter box with a low pass from the right side. Defoe spun and shot low towards the center of the goal, forcing a nice save from Handanovic. The ball popped up off the keeper's hands, right to Sigurdsson who finished his chance with a mildly acrobatic move, putting Spurs up 2-0.
Excellent first half for Tottenham, hopefully everybody got some orange slices during the break because it was totally deserved.
Spurs piled on the misery for Inter in the 52nd minute finally breaking through on a set piece after looking dangerous on them all evening. Bale's in-swinging corner was headed past Handanovic by Jan Vertonghen who was left completely free in the middle of the box after Cristian Chivu completely lost track of him. Just a horrible bit of defending by Inter that Spurs were more than happy to exploit.
Inter finally showed some signs on life with a quarter hour left to play. Cambiasso took a free kick from the midfield that found Rodrigo Palacio on a perfectly timed run that left him one-on-one with Brad Friedel. The American goalkeeper came out quickly, cutting down the angle and stonewalled Palacio's low shot to keep Inter off the scoreboard.
Should Inter manage to stage a comeback in the second leg remember that save, it could prove extremely important.
Solid win for Spurs, still plenty of work to be done at the San Siro but Andre Villas-Boas has to feel good about his team's chances of advancing.