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Bale's sharp cameo from bench hints at Premier League start

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4

WOLFSBERGER 0

Spurs win 8-1 on aggregate

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Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with Dele Alli after scoring his side's third goal against Wolfsberger. Photo: Getty

Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with Dele Alli after scoring his side's third goal against Wolfsberger. Photo: Getty

Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with Dele Alli after scoring his side's third goal against Wolfsberger. Photo: Getty

Gareth Bale is on course to be handed an opportunity to help revive Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League season after scoring as a substitute in last night’s Europa League stroll.

And Dele Alli gave notice that he is ready to come in from the cold if called upon by scoring a brilliant overhead kick and assisting two of Tottenham’s other goals on their way to the last 16.

Bale had started every Europa League game he had been available for ahead of the visit of Wolfsberger. But, following his impressive 45 minutes against West Ham United, the Welshman was one of the Tottenham stars, alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, to start on the substitutes’ bench for this last-32 second-leg tie.

His introduction with 21 minutes remaining looked very much like a warm-up for his first Premier League start since January 31, when Spurs will attempt to arrest a run of five league defeats in six matches against Burnley.

And Bale prepared perfectly for Sunday by scoring just four minutes after being sent on with a smart finish.

Whether or not Alli has done enough to immediately get a Premier League start remains to be seen, but the 24-year-old provided Jose Mourinho with a timely reminder of his talent.

Just 10 minutes into the second leg of what was already a dead rubber, following Tottenham’s 4-1 first-leg victory, Alli played the ball out to Matt Doherty on the right and darted towards the penalty spot.

Doherty’s cross back to Alli was far from perfect, but the former England international controlled the ball into the ground and, with his back to goal, produced a wonderful overhead kick to score.

The spectacular strike came less than 24 hours after Olivier Giroud had scored a similar overhead kick for Chelsea in the Champions League and it was certainly Alli’s best Tottenham goal for some time.

He later claimed his first assist by setting up Carlos Vinicius to score and then teed up Bale, as Spurs cruised into the last 16 with ease.

Asked whether Bale and Alli have now caused him a dilemma, Mourinho said: “These are the headaches that I love. These are wonderful problems. We have to play Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday, Thursday, so that’s what I need and the players need to understand the concept of team.

“Dele’s goal, I do not need to speak about because everyone can watch it. For me, the performance is what matters and he played very well in all aspects. Of course, he is not yet fresh after his injury and you can tell around 55 or 60 minutes. But in this moment, when we will play every three days, to have Dele back is amazing.”

Tottenham will now be hoping for another favourable draw in the last 16 , when they could be drawn to face another English side.

Nine points behind fourth-placed West Ham, winning this competition looks like the best chance of Tottenham managing to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Depending on the draw, Mourinho may have to call on his big hitters from the next round as he attempts to win the Europa League for a third time.
The margin of victory could have been even greater, not that it particularly mattered.

Steven Bergwijn, who is yet to score for Tottenham this season, clearly fancied his chances of ending his goal drought. The winger flashed an early shot wide and later in the first half tested the handling of Wolfsberger goalkeeper Manuel Kuttin.

Vinicius was guilty of trying to be too clever when he was presented with an opportunity just before the break. Rather than concentrating on scoring, the striker rolled his foot over the ball to round Kuttin, allowing Gustav Henriksson to get back and clear his delayed shot off the line.

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But Vinicius was more clinical six minutes after the restart, when he doubled Tottenham’s lead on the night with a header at the back post from a delicious Alli cross.

Erik Lamela went close on a couple of occasions before being replaced by Bale in the 69th minute and the on-loan 31-year-old stroked the ball into the net from Alli’s pass.

Vinicius then added a late fourth thanks to great work from 16-year-old substitute Dane Scarlett.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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