Spurs stretch their unbeaten run to seven matches

Tottenham 3 QPR 1

Tottenham stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches and moved level on points with fourth-placed Newcastle thanks to a routine win over QPR at White Hart Lane.

Gareth Bale opened the scoring with a sweet drive past Paddy Kenny in the 20th minute before Rafael van der Vaart added a second soon after to equal the club's record of scoring in five successive Barclays Premier League games.

Substitute Jay Bothroyd pulled one back for QPR in the second half, but Bale calmed the home fans' nerves 20 minutes from time with a wonderful curling shot after a neat exchange with Aaron Lennon on the edge of the box.

Arsenal's win over Chelsea yesterday proved the race for the top four promises to be a tough one, but on the evidence of most of Tottenham's display today, they should be regarded as serious challenges.

A few second-half wobbles aside, Bale, Van der Vaart and in particular Scott Parker all put in almost flawless displays to highlight the clear gulf in class between the two London sides and ensure Spurs' impressive run continued.

All the pre-match attention had surrounded Anton Ferdinand's state of mind but he was named in QPR's starting line up despite the race row that had erupted after last week's game against Chelsea.

The defender quickly came under attack from Spurs as the home side took charge of the game from the whistle.

Tottenham poured forward through Bale and would have taken the lead inside two minutes had Kenny not pulled off a brilliant reaction save to deny Van der Vaart from 10 yards.

Rangers were given a brief respite from the onslaught when Fitz Hall went down for a couple of minutes after appearing to pull his hamstring and he was replaced by Danny Gabbidon.

Emmanuel Adebayor then wasted a glorious chance to put Spurs ahead when he beat his marker to a Van der Vaart corner and headed wide.

A wayward effort from Heidar Helguson was the visitors' only chance of the opening exchanges and there was an inevitability about Spurs' opener when it came in the 20th minute.

Van der Vaart galloped down the right and cut the ball inside to Lennon, who selflessly squared for Bale to bury a sweet drive past Kenny.

Bale flashed a half-volley over the bar just before the half-hour mark when he got on the end of a Benoit Assou-Ekotto cross as Spurs maintained their dominance of the game thanks partly to some expert tackling by Parker.

The home side doubled their advantage just after the half-hour mark when Van der Vaart collected Ledley King's wayward shot on the edge of the area and fired a finish that sneaked inside Kenny's left-hand post for his 12th of the season.

Modric went close to making it 3-0 soon after when he lashed a wicked volley just wide, before the Croatian crashed another effort wide after a beautiful flowing passing move.

Warnock was incensed with his side's performance as Adebayor fired wide just before half-time and he brought on Jamie Mackie and Bothroyd after the restart for ineffective duo Adel Taarabt and Shaun Derry.

QPR threw more at the Spurs defence at the start of the second half, but they were soon on the back foot again.

Kenny pulled off a brilliant save to deny Van der Vaart before Adebayor missed another header similar to the one he spurned in the first half.

Adebayor had an immediate chance to make amends when he broke free, but Gabbidon put in a crucial block to deny the former Togo striker.

Younes Kaboul then put in a block of his own to deny Helguson as Rangers upped the pressure.

The away side then stunned the home crowd by pulling a goal back. Helguson sent a header back across the box from a Joey Barton corner and Bothroyd stole in front of his marker to nod home from barely three yards.

Kenny spilled a Van der Vaart effort at the other end but quickly made up for the error by saving Bale's rebound.

The former Sheffield United stopper did brilliantly to deny Assou-Ekotto, and King then spurned another opportunity to restore Spurs' two-goal cushion by heading wide.

Despite their lead, there was an edginess around White Hart Lane, but a moment of brilliance calmed the nerves with 20 minutes to go as Bale made it 3-1.

Van der Vaart released Lennon, who then exchanged a one-two with Bale before the Wales winger clipped a clinical effort past Kenny.

Adebayor missed the target by inches after some good work by Lennon as Tottenham threatened to run riot.

Perhaps conscious of how they had conceded their first while looking for a third goal of their own, the home side took their foot off the accelerator, but Parker maintained his industrious work in midfield by putting in another crunching tackle to dispossess Barton.

The former West Ham midfielder received a standing ovation and a big hug from manager Harry Redknapp when he was replaced by Sandro with four minutes left.

Warnock willed his team on to register a token second in injury-time but it never came, thanks largely to two late goal-line clearances.

PA

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