Five of the best: English-Italian European matches

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Gareth Bale is set to reprise his role as tormenter-in-chief of Inter Milan this evening, three years since he took apart Maicon in the San Siro on his way to a famous hat-trick.

That momentous individual performance ultimately counted for little as Spurs slipped to a 4-3 defeat, but it marked the arrival of the Welshman on the European stage.

Now, three years on, Bale is the Premier League's man-of-the-moment. Converted from flying winger to goalscoring difference-maker, Bale will likely play in a slightly different position to the one he occupied in the San Siro. Spurs hope the result will be the same.

That Tottenham-Inter tie was the latest classic between an English and Italian team in a top level European competition.

And we at GMF like a recap, so we've decided to bring you five of the best matches featuring the best of the two countries...

Inter Milan 4-3 Tottenham | 2010

Bale's brilliant hat-trick stole the headlines in this Champions League group stage game.

The Welshman battered the Inter defence into submission, charging down the wing like Jonah Lomu in his prime.

Like the Kiwi, Bale looked not of this planet as he left a puffing Maicon hanging onto his bootlaces. Ultimately, Inter got the three points though, thanks to goals from Javier Zanetti, two from Samuel Eto'o, and another from Dejan Stankovic. The return tie at White Hart Lane was sweeter for Spurs, but this was the classic.

Juventus 2-3 Manchester United | 1999

Manchester United reached their first European Cup final in 31 years after a night of high drama in Turin.

With Ryan Giggs ruled out through injury, United were dealt another blow when Roy Keane picked up a yellow card - ruling him out of the final.

But Keane, up against Zinedine Zidane in the Juventus midfield, put that aside to lead a stirring United comeback, as they overturned a 2-0 deficit to steal away with 3-2 win, and a place in the Champions League final. 

Possibly one of the greatest first-halfs in European football history saw Juve race into a two-goal lead inside 11 minutes. Barely 20 minutes later though, and United were heading through on away goals.

And with seven minutes to go Andy Cole made the game safe.

Inter Milan 1-5 Arsenal | 2003

Thierry Henry blasted Inter Milan away at the San Siro seven years before Gareth Bale, as the Arsenal star propelled his side to a thumping victory.

The Frenchman inspired one of the great Arsenal performances, as his two-goals helped put the Gunners three points away from the knock-out round.

This was a special Arsenal side, the year of the 'Invincibles', and this was their shining moment on the European stage. 

After the match, Wenger said: "Not in my wildest dreams could we have predicted that sort of result." 

Chelsea 4-1 Napoli | 2012

This was the turning point. Andre Villas-Boas was gone, his last meaningful contribution a 3-1 defeat to Napoli in the San Paulo. 

Replaced by interim boss Roberto Di Matteo, few gave Chelsea much hope - their Premier League form had been miserable, and the squad was muntinuous and disunited.

But Di Matteo brought them together. Much of that glue came from this performance, a 'together as one' display of defiance from the old guard as Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard powered home goals to take the match to extra time.

Once there, Branislav Ivanovic did the rest, blasting home a winner in the 105th minute. This was the beginning of a run that would end in Munich. And end with triumph.

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan - Liverpool win on penalties | 2005

The greatest final in Champions League history? Quite possibly. A strange night of desperation and delight, as emotions ebbed and flowed like the waters of the Bosphorus. 

Three goals down at the interval, the game was over. But six mad minutes turned the tie around. Rafa Benitez the genius. Carlo Ancelotti the fool.

Extra-time gave the impression it was Liverpool's year - Andriy Shevchenko conspiring to hit Jerzy Dudek from three yards when the goal was all but vacant.

Steven Gerrard in captain mode, Jamie Carragher all heroic and cramped.

Djbril Cisse in the nicest pair of boots I've ever seen - all white with black trim. Yes, this was meant to be.

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