It's official; Gareth Bale walks on water and glides on grass. Last night at the San Siro, his drive and acceleration left world class defenders Maicon, Zanetti, Samuel and Lucio trailing in his wake. Bale's brilliant hat-trick could yet prove crucial if qualification from Champions League Group A is decided on goal difference.
Watching the Welsh wunderkind tear a new orifice in the Inter backline was a joy to behold. If someone had told me at half-time that the European champions’ fans would be desperately screaming for the final whistle, I would have thought they were on the verge of lunacy (see Case Study: Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell 2006; Insania by Peter Andre).
But there was no mental breakdown at half-time from us Spurs fans in Milan, only thoughts of damage limitation. The guy next to me reckoned six would be acceptable, given Spurs' harsh reduction to 10 men in the 11th minute. I more optimistically tipped a 1-4 reverse, a marginal improvement on Bremen’s shellacking in the San Siro. But no, we were about to see something special (apologies to Mr. Tumble).
Enter the Dragon and three wonderful finishes that showcased Gareth's unearthly pace, skill and dead-eye finishing. The potential of Bale is like dear Ledley after a night out on the tizers – staggering.
So Spurs remain well-placed for group qualification at the halfway point in second spot behind Inter, having played their two most difficult away fixtures and scored a startling 15 goals in their first five Champions League ties.
The dream perseveres.