Majestic Bale lights up the Lane
Published 09/02/2013 | 15:17
GARETH Bale lived up to his billing as Tottenham's own Cristiano Ronaldo after firing Andre Villas-Boas' side to an entertaining victory over Newcastle at White Hart Lane.
Villas-Boas was at pains to point out the similarities between Bale and Ronaldo during the week, and the Welshman put in a performance the Portuguese would have been proud of today.
Bale beat Tim Krul with a 25-yard free-kick to open the scoring for the Londoners and he then sealed the win with a superb break-away goal that ended with him slotting the ball between the Newcastle goalkeeper's legs.
Newcastle dominated large parts of the game but Bale, like he has done so many times this season, swung the game in Spurs' favour.
The 23-year-old, who scored the decisive goals in Tottenham's last two matches, now has 19 goals for club and country this season. Only the athletic brilliance of Krul prevented him taking home the match ball for the second time this season.
How the watching Roy Hodgson must wish he was English.
Newcastle's goal came from Yoan Gouffran, who was later carried off on a stretcher with a serious-looking leg injury.
The win stretched Tottenham's unbeaten Barclays Premier League run to 10 matches and put the north London club in to third, although Chelsea will have a chance to move ahead of their rivals if they beat Wigan later.
Villas-Boas and Pardew fell out last season, but there was a strong sense of bonhomie as they embraced on the touchline before kick-off.
Bale was in no mood to show the visitors the same love. Just 70 seconds had elapsed when he burst down the left after a clever one-two with Lewis Holtby, but Davide Santon cut the Welshman's cross out before Clint Dempsey could convert.
Three minutes later and Spurs had the lead. Fabricio Coloccini clattered into Dempsey 25 yards out and Bale stepped up to deliver a Ronaldo-esque free-kick which dipped over the wall past a diving Krul.
Spurs dominated the rest of the opening quarter with some scintillating attacking football.
Mousa Dembele penetrated the box and rolled the ball back to Holtby, who came within inches of scoring his first goal for the club. Thereafter Newcastle came back in to the game. Lloris saved from a Gouffran curler and Cisse directed a free diving header just wide of his compatriot's goal.
Holtby momentarily raised the hopes of the home crowd, but Newcastle remained on top and the seemingly inevitable equaliser came with 24 minutes gone.
Sissoko galloped down the right on a Newcastle counter and pulled the ball back to Gouffran who beat Lloris via a deflection from the diving Michael Dawson.
Spurs had two penalty appeals turned down. The first - when Aaron Lennon's shot struck Santon's arm - looked credible, but the second - when Bale's volley brushed Mathieu Debuchy's shoulder - was not.
Gutierrez whipped a cross in to the box to find Yohan Cabaye, but the Frenchman mis-controlled and Lloris came to the rescue.
Tottenham failed to up their performance straight after the break.
The game came to a pause for seven minutes as Gouffran received treatment for what looked like a serious injury.
Kyle Walker clipped the forward's right shin on the halfway line and he needed oxygen before being carried off on a stretcher. He was then taken to hospital for an x-ray.
Bale looked to be Tottenham's best hope of finding a winner. The Welshman, who fired his country to victory over Austria in midweek, picked the ball off Lennon and fired a low cross in to the box but it was cut out before Dempsey could score.
Bale came forward again, charging at the defence before firing a powerful shot which Taylor blocked bravely.
Taylor went from hero to villain moments later, however, as his mix-up with Coloccini allowed Bale to race through the Toon defence and fire between the legs of Krul to make it 2-1.
Caulker had a chance to seal the win moments later with a free header when Krul went walkabout, but the defender nodded wide.
Only Krul's finger-tips prevented the Welshman from adding a third after he raced through from a long punt down field before firing a powerful volley at goal.
Cabaye put in a terrible tackle on Dembele, stamping on the Belgian's ankle in a late attempt to win the ball. Spurs' players demanded a red card, but Phil Dowd issued just a yellow.
Newcastle threatened to equalise in the second of seven added minutes through substitute Shola Ameobi, but Lloris saved well to deny the striker.
Krul's acrobatics denied Bale his hat-trick twice in added time, but the winger did not mind. He had already done enough damage to see off the Toon.