Crouch hails unbelievable Bale

Spurs striker Peter Crouch believes Gareth Bale will only get better following his second-half hat-trick against Inter Milan at the San Siro.

Bale continues to surprise with his miraculous and game-changing displays after a sluggish start to life in a Tottenham Hotspur shirt.

Two of Bale’s three goals in the 4-3 defeat on Wednesday night saw him race down the left flank and tear apart an Inter Milan defence whose solid organisation had helped them lift the Champions League trophy in May.

It was a little too late to complete what threatened to become a remarkable comeback, but it has further enhanced Bale's reputation.

Bale’s potential is what brought him from Southampton to Spurs in a deal that could reach up to £10 million in 2007.

However, his Tottenham career didn’t exactly get off to a flying start, playing in a record 24 games for Spurs without being on the winning side.

That curse - and the form of Benoit Assou-Ekotto - kept Bale out of the starting XI, but other European heavyweights remained keen on the Welsh wonderkid.

Crouch, however, insists Bale has been impressing for the past two years.

"Bale is unbelievable. He's been like that for two years. But to score a hat-trick at the San Siro is something special. They were three fantastic finishes. He's still young and is already a top player and just keeps showing it," he said.

The final scoreline, as well as Bale’s second half performance, will give the Nerazzurri something to think about when they face a rejuvenated Spurs team again at White Hart Lane.

Nevertheless, Crouch revealed his disappointment at Tottenham's desperately poor start to the game, going a goal down inside 70 seconds and conceding another two and having a player sent off within the first 13.

"It was disappointing that we didn't start at all well. We started terribly and got punished for it. You can't do that against opposition like Inter. Then the sending-off killed us," he said.

"[Manager] Harry Redknapp was disappointed. At half-time he told us to make sure we didn't concede any more goals. He said to go out in the second half and keep them quiet.

"We didn't think we'd get back in the game, but in the second half, credit to us, we almost did. Another five minutes and it could have been different. Apart from the first 15 minutes I think we matched them quite well.

"It sets us up well for the second leg at White Hart Lane. I think we have enough to cope with them. At home we'll have a go at them.

"If we cut out the silly mistakes we can get a result. We showed enough on the night to believe we can get a result."

By Tyler Stellman