Bale blasts late winner in Saints defeat
Published 04/05/2013 | 17:56
Gareth Bale rounded off a remarkable week by firing Tottenham to a dramatic last-gasp 1-0 win against Southampton.
The pressure was on Bale to deliver after a brilliant week for the Welshman, but for most of the game he disappointed. The 23-year-old, who won the PFA Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, and FWA Footballer of the Year awards this week, was marked out of the game for most of what was largely a dull and uninspiring match.
Bale flitted between positions, his touch was often poor, and he offered little to help Spurs on the attack. That was until the 86th minute. The forward found space 25 yards out, picked the ball off substitute Lewis Holtby and unleashed a peach of a shot which beat the out-stretched Artur Boruc.
The strike brought his tally for the season to 30 - double his previous best - and also meant Bale became the first Tottenham player since Jurgen Klinsmann to register 20 league goals in a season.
The victory piled the pressure on Arsenal and Chelsea, in the battle for top-four spots in the Barclays Premier League, ahead of Spurs' huge clash against the Blues on Wednesday night, but it was a cruel blow for Southampton, who deserved at least a point from the game.
After a half-hour delay due to a chemical spillage on the M25, Tottenham started brightly, going on the attack from the first whistle. Jermain Defoe almost opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he drove into the side-netting.
The home side's high line left them vulnerable, though, and Southampton took full advantage. Hugo Lloris had tipped a brilliant Rickie Lambert free-kick in the first half on to a post, and the Saints dominated most of game, but they remained far from safety following Wigan's win at West Brom.
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas looked to Emmanuel Adebayor for inspiration, the Togolese coming on for an injured Aaron Lennon with half an hour left.
The hosts' hopes of salvaging a win looked to be slipping away until the 86th minute, when Bale collected the ball off Holtby and fired a 25-yard shot past a sprawling Boruc.
Bale had said earlier this week that he would mute his celebration out of respect to his former club, but the 23-year-old could not resist, racing over to the corner before being mobbed by his delighted team-mates.