Van der Vaart relief after 10-man Spurs win thriller


TOTTENHAM tasted Champions League victory at White Hart Lane for the first time, but only after a helter-skelter night of extreme drama typified by Rafael van der Vaart missing a penalty, scoring a goal and then being sent off.

Forward Roman Pavlyuchenko was more successful from the spot, twice scoring penalties, while Gareth Bale slotted the fourth, as goals teemed down as freely as the torrential rainstorm in north London.

But 10-man Spurs were aided by a series of controversial decisions, with the three penalties chief among them – not that manager Harry Redknapp let it affect his enjoyment.

“It was a great performance tonight to win 4-1, you can’t ask for more than that. If people can’t enjoy that they can’t enjoy anything really,” said Redknapp.

“I thought the third one was a soft one but the other two I thought they were both nailed-on penalties.”

Van der Vaart, who was dismissed for a second yellow card on the hour, admitted it had been “a strange game”. He added: “I missed a penalty, I scored a goal and I was sent off. I have never played a game like this.”

Victory kept Spurs level on four points with Group A leaders Inter Milan, whom they face next in back-to-back home and away fixtures.

They might have taken the lead earlier, having been awarded a penalty for a foul on Peter Crouch, only for Van der Vaart to see his shot superbly saved by Nikolay Mihailov.

The Dutch deadline-day signing made amends straight after half-time, however, taking Crouch’s header on his chest before sweeping home a classy volley.

Moments later Pavlyuchenko scored from the spot after a foul on Bale, but Twente quickly reduced the deficit when Nacer Chadli poked home from close range.

Van der Vaart’s sending-off gave the visitors fresh hope, but Pavlyuchenko struck again after referee Terje Hauge awarded the most debatable penalty of the night when the ball struck Denny Landzaat’s arm.

Midfielder Bale then capped a hugely entertaining encounter with five minutes remaining when he capitalised on a weak header to beat Mihailov one-on-one.