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Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010

Rampant Bale gives Spurs win over Inter

LONDON (AP) Tottenham beat defending champion Inter Milan 3-1 to record one of the greatest results in the club's history and Barcelona must also wait to seal qualification to the Champions League's knockout stage after drawing 1-1 at FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring for Tottenham in the 18th minute before man-of-the-match Gareth Bale set up Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko for goals after the break.

Inter striker Samuel Eto'o had made it 2-1 with his seventh goal of the tournament but it could not stop Champions League debutants Spurs going above the Italian champions on goal difference in Group A.

Like Inter, which stumbled to its first defeat, Barcelona would have reached the last 16 with a win but Copenhagen's Claudemir canceled out Lionel Messi's goal to earn the Danish side a point in Group D.

Manchester United beat Bursaspor 3-0 to move to the brink of qualification from Group C while Lyon's 100 percent record in Group B ended with a 4-3 defeat at Benfica, who came close to squandering a four-goal lead.

With Inter, Barcelona and Lyon all failing to win, no side is through to the knockout stage yet. Arsenal, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Bayern Munich can all do so on Wednesday.

Bale terrorized Inter's defense two weeks ago by scoring a stunning second-half hat trick when Spurs lost 4-3 at the San Siro. The Wales winger put in just as good a performance at White Hart Lane, with Inter's Brazil right back Maicon undone time and again by Bale's trickery and pace.

"He was amazing. They're just doing some drug testing now — the dope testers are here, and I hope they're testing him," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp joked.

Van der Vaart ran onto Luka Modric's slipped through-ball to curl in a finish and maintain his run of scoring in every home game he's played for Tottenham since his deadline-day move.

Bale, who ran Maicon ragged in the first half, repeated the dose after the break and laid on perfect crosses for Crouch and Pavlyuchenko to apply almost identical finishes at the far post.

"From the first to the last we played unbelievably. Pressed them, outworked them, outplayed them all night," Redknapp said.

In the group's other match, Nacer Chadli and Luuk de Jong scored late goals to earn FC Twente a 2-0 win over 10-man Werder Bremen and put it on five points, two behind Spurs and Inter.

Messi scored his fifth goal in this season's Champions League when he lashed in a right-foot shot that went in off the post to put three-time winner Barcelona ahead in Denmark.

But Copenhagen equalized when Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes fumbled Jesper Gronkjaer's cross from the left and Claudemir was on hand to volley in at the far post, keeping his side a point behind the Spanish champions.

"I am really proud of the boys," Copenhagen coach Stale Solbakken said.

Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos earlier played out a second successive 0-0 draw to reduce their hopes of a top-two finish.

In Group C, United closed in on the last 16 thanks to a comfortable win in Bursa, secured through goals after the break by Darren Fletcher, Gabriel Obertan and Bebe.

United lost Nani to a groin strain midway through a dull first half but the game improved after the break and Fletcher broke the deadlock when he drilled home a diagonal finish after being found by Michael Carrick.

Obertan, making a rare start on the left wing, cut inside his marker in the 73rd minute to smash home the second from 20 yards and substitute Bebe wrapped up the win soon after with a deflected effort.

Bursaspor is yet to pick up a point or score a goal in four games, while United needs just a point against Rangers in two weeks' time to advance.

"We're in a great position now with two games to go. The quicker we qualify the better," said Fletcher.

The Scottish champions began the night a point clear of Valencia but the Spanish side leapfrogged its opponent thanks to Roberto Soldado's brace and a third by substitute Tino Costa in a 3-0 win.

Group B leader Lyon would have made it into the last 16 with a point at Benfica but Claude Puel's side lost despite a remarkable late comeback.



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