Sunday 28 May 2017

Bale force sweeps Spurs towards higher hopes

Norwich City 0 Tottenham 2

Henry Winter

A zephyr blew through Carrow Road last night -- and it wore a white shirt with No 3 on it. Gareth Bale in full flight is one of the great sights of the modern game, the Welshman showing touch and pace in twice destroying Norwich City's defence.

His first goal was all about technique and timing, Bale controlling Emmanuel Adebayor's pass and scoring, but his second involved an astonishing sprint that left Zak Whitbread gasping on vapour trails. Spurs fans loved it, singing about Bale being born to play for them.

At the final whistle, Bale walked towards the away section, saluting them as they chanted "Bale, Bale''. With players of the calibre of Bale, Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart, Spurs are riding ever higher. They are now four points above third-placed Chelsea. If Spurs win their game in hand (against Everton) they will be four points behind the leaders. Talk of the title may be premature but Spurs are hardly lacking in confidence or quality.

On a good night for the visitors, Kyle Walker also enhanced his reputation with some promising forays down the right. Victory also showed Harry Redknapp that he can re-jig tactics, which was 4-2-3-1 with Bale going ever more central. At one point during the second half, Bale was playing off Adebayor and he ended up on the right wing.

The game briefly turned nasty in the first half when Grant Holt raised his arm and poleaxed Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who was trying to play a 1-2 with Adebayor. Less lenient referees than Michael Oliver would have brandished red. Holt escaped without even a lecture. Spurs quietly seethed.

Spurs finished the half strongly and Walker, beginning to get his radar working, whipped in a cross that Russell Martin did well to intercept. Martin then dithered in possession, and Bale swooped, nicking the ball, taking two touches to propel the ball into the box before his third swept it wildly over.

Then came a moment of magic, a delivery from deep on the right from Van der Vaart that Jack Wilshere, an Arsenal man, hailed on Twitter as the "pass of the season so far. Genius". The Dutchman's pass released Adebayor but the Spurs striker over-ran the ball after rounding John Ruddy.

But it was Adebayor's good control and vision that made the opener 10 minutes after the restart. Guiding the ball away from Richie De Laet Adebayor rolled the ball to Bale, who finished with a low shot.

One quickly became two, very quickly. Released by Modric, Bale slew through the centre, his pace destroying Norwich's defence, before he dinked the ball home.

It was just as well that Bale had brought his shooting boots, as Adebayor certainly hadn't.

Norwich refused to go quietly. Steve Morison flicked a header wide from Anthony Pilkington's cross. But the final whistle soon arrived and the lauding of Bale intensified. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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