Bale brace as Tottenham show what they're made of
Tottenham 3 Wigan 1
Tuesday 31 January 2012
Gareth Bale scored twice as Tottenham returned to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League with a stylish triumph over a hapless Wigan side at White Hart Lane.
Spurs followed up their defeat to Manchester City with poor displays against Wolves and Watford but they were at their splendid best tonight, playing their usual brand of free-flowing attacking football before Bale put them ahead in the 29th minute.
Luka Modric despatched a cool 18-yard strike to make it 2-0 five minutes later and Bale scored his second after 64 minutes before James McArthur grabbed a late consolation for the Latics.
The win puts pressure back on both Manchester sides at the top of the table and increased Spurs' lead over fourth-place Chelsea to seven points.
The three points also brought a smile to Harry Redknapp's face on his first appearance in the White Hart Lane dugout since his defence against two charges of tax evasion - which he denies - started last week.
Despite being in court today, Redknapp had been busy orchestrating transfer dealings before tonight's 11pm deadline.
The London club have been linked with forward players Milos Krasic and Louis Saha, but on this performance, they do not need much firepower up front.
Spurs put their recent woes behind them and flew out of the blocks tonight on a sub-zero night in north London.
Ali Al Habsi pulled off a point-blank save from Younes Kaboul's bullet header in the sixth minute and Niko Kranjcar should have tested the Wigan goalkeeper but he miscontrolled while deep inside the away box.
The Croatian went on to miss two more chances before Emmanuel Adebayor, without a goal in his last six games, headed over Kyle Walker's cross. Only a James McCarthy goalline clearance kept the score goalless in the 24th minute after Kaboul beat his marker to meet Rafael van der Vaart's corner.
Spurs were playing some of their best football and it only seemed a matter of time before they scored.
Bale had a fancy scissors kick cleared before and also forced Al Habsi to save at his far post before putting Spurs ahead in the 29th minute.
The Welshman took down Modric's chip at the far post before hooking the ball in on the volley for his 10th of the season.
Van der Vaart worryingly hobbled off with an injury on the half hour and was replaced by Jake Livermore.
Bale then stung Al Habsi's palms with a fierce shot 12 minutes before the break and one minute later Spurs were 2-0 up. Wigan's attempted clearance from a Benoit Assou-Ekotto cross ricocheted into Modric's path and he coolly turned and slotted past Al Habsi from 18 yards.
Redknapp, delighted with the strike, performed a little jig on the touchline.
The home fans gave a show of support for their manager by chanting his name and his team ended the first half strongly, with Livermore drawing Al Habsi into a save near to injury-time.
Wigan started the second period brightly. Victor Moses wriggled free from his marker but blazed over before Ledley King put in a crunching tackle to deny Franco Di Santo.
Spurs, always looked dangerous, however, and Bale added his second in the 19th minute of the second half. The winger picked up a pass from Assou-Ekotto on the corner of the box, took one touch past to ease past Ben Watson and fired a peach of a drive across Al Habsi into the far corner.
Yet more chants came in support of Redknapp and he acknowledged the home fans with a proud wave on the touchline.
Di Santo hobbled off after being clattered by Assou-Ekotto and was replaced by Conor Sammon.
The away side pulled a shock consolation back the following minute when McArthur's shot deflected off Scott Parker and looped over Brad Friedel and in off his far post.
McCarthy's pass then laid on Ronnie Stam and he whistled a sharp ball across the box - but no-one was there to tap in.
Bale was denied a hat-trick on three separate occasions in the dying minutes, but the Welshman will be happy that his double strike was more than enough for the club to seal an easy win.
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