Spurs once again look to on-fire Bale
Tottenham 2 Newcastle 1
Published 10/02/2013 | 04:00
Andre Villas-Boas was moved to declare that losing Gareth Bale would be "a disaster" for Tottenham after watching him maintain his one-man mission to drag them into the Champions League.
Villas-Boas admitted Bale has become as crucial to Spurs as Lionel Messi is to Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid and it was easy to see why after he beat Newcastle almost single-handedly.
Alan Pardew's side actually contained Bale remarkably well for 70 minutes after giving him a fifth-minute chance to punish them with an astonishing dipping free-kick. But they were helpless after Villas-Boas brought the Welshman inside, so much so that he could have easily ended up with five goals to his name.
As it was, one more was enough to make it five in four games for club and country and 19 in total from what is looking like being his best season yet. Unfortunately for Tottenham, it could also be his last at the club if they surrender to the growing interest from elsewhere in their 23-year-old talisman.
Their manager admitted Bale was crucial to Tottenham's hopes of success. "Most teams have to hang on to their best players," Villas-Boas said. "Barcelona losing Messi would be a disaster and Real Madrid losing Ronaldo would be a disaster. So I think it's exactly the same."
Villas-Boas, though, bristled at the "extremely unfair" implication that Spurs were over-reliant on Bale but seven points from nine secured solely by the goals of one man tells its own story.
Newcastle must have had a dreadful feeling of deja vu when he put Tottenham ahead almost a year to the day after the visitors' 5-0 thrashing in the corresponding fixture.
But, unscarred by that defeat, their new French contingent combined to equalise midway through the first half.
Moussa Sissoko raced clear down the right and cut the ball back for Yoan Gouffran, who was closed down so slowly by Michael Dawson that his shot hit the back of the defender and deceived goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
It was all rather tame after that, Newcastle looking every inch the resurgent side their Gallic influx last month had made them.
That was until Gouffran went down and stayed down shortly before the hour after being caught on the shin by Kyle Walker. A long delay followed during which he was administered oxygen before being carried from the field and taken to hospital.
"The doctor was 50/50 from his experience about whether it was broken," said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
Spurs seized the initiative but it took the arrival of Emmanuel Adebayor – better late than never after Africa Cup of Nations duty – and Bale's redeployment to break the visitors' resistance.
Bale beat Fabricio Coloccini all too easily after Adebayor won the ball near the touchline and when he found himself one-on-one with Tim Krul, there appeared only one outcome.
Then again, the same could be said about three further chances late on but Krul produced two outstanding saves and Bale missed a sitter on his right foot.Bale joked afterwards: "I probably need to work on it a bit better!"