Swansea City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2 match report: Gareth Bale puts Spurs back on course for Europe

Another outstanding display from the Welshman is too much for

the liberty stadium

Is there anything Gareth Bale cannot do? Not only did the Welshman produce a superb attacking performance here with one wonderful first-half goal as well as setting up Jan Vertonghen's opener, the 23‑year-old also showed he can be a defender of the highest order.

After Michu halved the deficit with a 70th-minute header, Spurs were on the back foot with memories fresh from two successive League defeats.

But Bale's stoppage-time block on his old pal and Swansea wideman Nathan Dyer sealed a valuable three points for Tottenham in their pursuit of Champions' League football next season.

No wonder Andre Villas-Boas, Bale's club manager, hailed his prized asset as "world class" after this latest five-star showing.

"Gareth was the difference between the teams," Villas-Boas said. "For a team to do well it is difficult to single out any individual, but Bale did ever so well.

"Both offensively and defensively he is a world-class player. He showed that with the block at the end to prevent Swansea from drawing the game."

The Swansea manager, Michael Laudrup, also believed that man-of-the-match Bale was the difference between the sides. "There are a lot of very good players in the Premier League – and then there are the few special ones like him," he said.

"He can score goals and win games from nothing. His goal against us was fantastic. There is nothing you can do to legislate against a strike like his."

The victory lifted Spurs to third in the Premier League table after Chelsea's shock defeat at Southampton and ended talk of them fading away after their recent wobble which included losses to Liverpool and Fulham.

Yet Villas-Boas insisted his men are up for the fight to join Europe's elite again after Chelsea ruined last season's dreams by winning the Champions League in Munich. In fact he believes that disappointment is actually acting as a catalyst and driving his team on in the final furlong of the season.

Villas-Boas added: "I'm pleased we are back on track. The win was extremely important for us, particularly at a difficult ground against a team who plays well. It was never going to be easy.

"At half-time we spoke about getting the third goal to put the game beyond any doubt. We couldn't and Swansea did ever so well to come back into the game.

"It was a decisive moment for us to win because it showed the determination of the team and the winning mentality which allowed us to hold on to a great away win and put us back into third position.

"I am surrounded by top-quality players with ambition. What happened last season and the fact these players weren't present in the Champions' League, even though they deserved to be because of their League position, gives them great ambition to achieve it this season.

"It gives me and my staff great belief. We showed a winning mentality to take this game through to the end and hold on for three points.

"It's been a good day, but it shifts very quickly. We were in that position last week and it has changed again this week. With the teams so close everyone has to make sure they get the points or one team gets one over you.

"This victory means nothing. If it is to mean something then we have to be competent and try to gather the most amount of points. We still have important fixtures against Man City, Chelsea and Everton who are playing for the same objectives."

What a difference five days makes, because if Bale had produced the same level of display in south Wales on Tuesday night, there is little doubt that Wales's World Cup dreams would still be well and truly alive heading into the autumn.

Chris Coleman's men saw their qualification hopes dashed following a late double raid by Croatia, yet, the turning point of that Group A contest came in the 40th minute when Bale missed a glorious chance that most people would have put their house on that he would have converted.

Just days later, Bale was back at the Liberty Stadium on club duty and the contrast in his finishing was staggering, culminating in his wonderful 21st-minute strike which left the Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm stranded.

The Welshman collected Vertonghen's forward pass and with instant control, arrowed a stunning left-footed shot beyond the helpless Dutchman.

It was the sort of goal you see from a certain Cristiano Ronaldo wearing the white shirt of Real Madrid and it kept Tottenham driving towards the Champions' League – where a player of Bale's calibre belongs.

By that point, the irrepressible Welshman had already set up Vertonghen's seventh-minute opener, and although Michu grabbed his 20th goal of an excellent season from Ki Sung-Yueng's corner, Bale's contribution proved the difference. And no doubt that won't be the last time such a statement is made this season.

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all