What many people forget about this Champions League match is that Spurs lost. They were 4-1 down to Rafa Benitez’s Inter (European champions the previous season, under Jose Mourinho) after 90 minutes, in fact. But two late Bale goals totally changed the complexion of the game, and thrust the young Welshman into the limelight. Still, it’s funny to think that the defining performance of Bale’s Spurs career came in a defeat. How very Spursy.
Spurs won the return group match 3-1. Bale was even better that night in north London. It was after this game that the phrase ‘Taxi for Maicon’ entered the football lexicon, as Bale ruined the Brazilian right-back’s reputation in the space of 90 minutes.
Notes on the game at the San Siro:
A 19-year-old Philippe Coutinho played for Inter.
Spurs went down to ten men after eight minutes, when their keeper Heurelho Gomes was sent off for a foul on Jonathan Biabiany inside the box.
Inter legend Javier Zanetti, then 37, played like a man who had never before come up against a player with Bale’s speed. The Tractor’s legs were pretty much gone by this stage, although he did remain at the club until 2014.