Gareth Bale's stunning second-half hat-trick spared 10-man Tottenham's blushes but failed to prevent them slumping to a 4-3 defeat - their first Champions League Group A loss at Inter Milan.
Spurs looked set to be humiliated when holders Inter raced to a 4-0 lead inside 35 minutes through goals from Javier Zanetti, a Samuel Eto'o penalty - after Heurelho Gomes had been sent off - Dejan Stankovic and Eto'o again.
But Bale almost completed a sensational comeback single-handedly, scoring one of the goals of the season before netting twice in the closing seconds to further enhance his burgeoning reputation.
Inter cut Spurs to shreds in just 70 seconds, easily drawing Alan Hutton out of position and allowing Eto'o to feed Zanetti, who expertly curled the ball beyond Gomes.
Spurs tried to settle but Gomes was sent off six minutes later. Wesley Sneijder played a delightful ball inside Benoit Assou-Ekotto to Jonathan Biabiany and Gomes came rushing out and brought down the Inter winger. Eto'o eventually stepped up in the 11th minute to beat substitute keeper Carlo Cudicini from the spot.
Inter were merciless and, as 10-man Spurs retreated to the edge of their box, a lovely passing move ended with Stankovic slipping the ball past an unsighted Cudicini.
Stankovic twice went close to a fourth but the embarrassment soon resumed, Coutinho given an age to pick out Eto'o's run in behind the visiting defence 10 minutes from the break. Cudicini got hands on the in-form Cameroon striker's finish but not enough to keep it out.
The next goal went to Spurs - and it was a beauty. Bale carried the ball from inside his own half, brilliantly beating two players before finding the corner of the net with a stunning finish.
Then for the most incredible of finishes as Bale netted in the 90th and 91st minutes to complete his hat-trick.
The winger produced a carbon-copy strike to his opening goal before scoring again in stoppage-time to set up the briefest of grandstand finishes.