Anzhi 0-0 Newcastle
Plzen 0-1 Fenerbahce
Stuttgart 0-2 Lazio
Steaua 1-0 Chelsea
Benfica 1-0 Bordeaux
Tottenham 3-0 Inter
Levante 0-0 FK Rubin
FC Basel 2-0 Zenit
ROME – Tottenham Hotspur coach Andre Villas-Boas said Gareth Bale’s suspension-incurring booking in the 3-0 win over Inter Milan merely capped a perfect evening for the Premier League side.
Bale headed Tottenham in front in the first leg of the Europa League last-16 tie at White Hart Lane on Thursday, before teeing up the third goal for Jan Vertonghen after Gylfi Sigurdsson had doubled the hosts’ lead.
Shortly after his sixth-minute opener, the Welshman received a caution for diving that rules him out of next week’s return leg in Milan.
However, with Bale having now wiped his disciplinary slate clean ahead of a potential quarterfinal, Villas-Boas said the booking had arrived at an opportune moment. “He’ll be a great miss,” said the Spurs manager.
“To be fair, with this result, we would have asked him to get the yellow card (if he had not been booked) to be ‘clean’ for the last eight.
“We’re in a good position, but it’s not finished. We’ll miss Gareth because he’s been influential in consecutive games, but hopefully we can make it through to the last eight without him.”
Bale’s booking, after he went down under a challenge from Walter Gargano in the 15th minute, was the fourth time this season that he has been shown a yellow card for diving.
Bale’s goal took his tally to 10 in his last eight games, while his all-round display continued his record of producing extraordinary performances against Inter.
However, last year’s European champions Chelsea were humbled 1-0 by Steaua Bucharest after being stung by a Raul Rusescu penalty.
Big-spending Russian pair Zenit St Petersburg and Anzhi Makhachkala failed to manage a goal between them. Zenit lost 2-0 to late goals at FC Basle and Anzhi were held 0-0 by Newcastle United.
Former European champions Benfica beat Girondins Bordeaux 1-0 thanks to an unlucky own goal and Lazio won 2-0 at VfB Stuttgart in other last 16 first leg ties.
Bale’s ban a blessing in disguise, says AVB