Gareth Bale boosted his sky-rocketing profile with one of the goals which helped Tottenham Hotspur beat Inter Milan 3-0 in the Europa League football on Thursday and lifted Britain’s European gloom.
Bale, with his 21st of the season, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen were all on target in a one-sided last-16, first leg win at White Hart Lane which left the Italians with a mountain to climb in the return next week.
The only setback for Spurs was seeing Bale booked for a fourth time this season for diving, a caution which will rule him out of the second leg at the San Siro.
Tottenham’s win was the only British success in Europe this week.
Earlier, Chelsea had slumped to a 1-0 loss at Steaua Bucharest while Newcastle carved out a 0-0 draw with Anzhi Makhachkala.
After a traumatic week in the Champions League which saw Manchester United and Celtic knocked out, Chelsea, which captured the continent’s top prize last season, put in a toothless display in the Romanian capital.
The only goal came in the 34th minute when Steaua’s Raul Rusescu beat Petr Cech from the penalty spot after he had been chopped down by Ryan Bertrand.
Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez made five changes to the side which beat West Brom 1-0 in the Premier League at the weekend, including a recall for John Terry.
Newcastle match drawn
Newcastle, with seven Frenchmen in the line-up, battled out a 0-0 draw against Anzhi Makhachkala, ending the Russians’ 100 per cent home record in the tournament this season.
In a game of few opportunities, and in front of a smattering of fans inside a freezing Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Magpies’ manager Alan Pardew won the night’s tactical battle against wily Guus Hiddink.
Anzhi’s frustrations were perfectly summed up when €30 million signing Willian limped out of the game early in the first half.
The Russians had the better opportunities to break the deadlock with Cameroon star Samuel Eto’o wasting three chances.
At the other end, playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa, returning after a three-month injury absence, and one of Newcastle’s French contingent in the starting eleven, had a chip saved by Vladimir Gabulov.
Lazio posts win
Italian title-chaser Lazio took a huge step closer to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win in Germany against Stuttgart with Ederson and Ogenyi Onazi scoring either side of the break.
There was also an away win for Fenerbahce with Cameroon striker Pierre Webo grabbing the goal in a 1-0 win at Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic.
Benfica edged Bordeaux 1-0, Levante and Rubin Kazan drew 0-0 while two goals in the last 10 minutes gave Basel a 2-0 home win over St. Petersburg.
The results: Last 16, first leg: At Moscow: Anzhi Makhachkala 0 drew with Newcastle United 0.
At Plzen: Viktoria Plzen 0 lost to Fenerbahce 1 (Webo 81).
At Stuttgart: VfB Stuttgart 0 lost to Lazio 2 (Ederson 21, Onazi 56).
At Bucharest: Steaua Bucharest 1 (Rusescu 34-pen) bt Chelsea 0.
At Lisbon: Benfica 1 (Carrasso 21-og) bt Bordeaux 0.
At London: Tottenham 3 (Bale 6, Sigurdsson 18, Vertonghen 53) bt Inter Milan 0.
At Valencia: Levante 0 drew with Rubin Kazan 0.
At Basel: Basel 2 (Diaz 83, A. Frei 90+4) bt Zenit St. Petersburg 0. — Agencies