Tottenham forward Gareth Bale targeting twin success

Welshman has been nominated for the Player of the Year award

Tottenham forward Gareth Bale is determined to end the week inside the top four of the Barclays Premier League and with a second Player of the Year award on his mantelpiece.

Bale returned from a two-and-a-half week injury absence yesterday to help inspire Spurs to a dramatic 3-1 win over reigning champions Manchester City.

Although manager Andre Villas-Boas changed the game with his substitutions, Bale's contribution was also key to the win, which came after Samir Nasri had put City ahead.

Bale curled a peach of a pass across the box to Clint Dempsey, who started off the comeback, and the Welshman scored himself eight minutes from time with a clever chip over Joe Hart to seal the win after Jermain Defoe had scored Spurs' second.

That strike took Bale's tally for the season to 23 - a highly impressive achievement which means he is the odds-on favourite to win the Professional Footballers' Association player of the year gong when it is announced on Sunday night.

"It's massive. It's great for your peers to vote for you," said Bale, who is also up for the Young Player of the Year award.

"Hopefully I do win. To be nominated is fantastic and fingers crossed (I do win)."

Ever the selfless man, Bale was keen to ensure his double nomination did not take the focus off what was a crucial win for Spurs yesterday.

The forward even played down his own contribution, merely describing his goal, which came after a brilliant slide-rule pass from Tom Huddlestone as "all right".

For, as everyone has been pointing out at White Hart Lane all season, Spurs are not a one-man team, and that showed yesterday.

Huddlestone, Defoe, and Lewis Holtby all contributed hugely, while the character on display from the home side, coupled with Villas-Boas' tactical nous, gave Tottenham supporters hope that this will not be another season where their team throw away Champions League qualification in the home straight.

Spurs will move a point clear of third-placed Arsenal, who play Manchester United on Sunday, if they beat Wigan the day before, and Bale wants to see his team-mates show the same kind of fighting spirit for the remainder of the season.

"We knew it was a massive game and the lads showed what we have in the team - a lot of character," Bale added on Spurs TV Online.

"It was a fantastic turnaround. As soon as we scored the first everyone had that belief and confidence, the fans raised the noise and gave us that belief to go forward and thankfully we were able to score two more.

"We need to keep that character, team spirit, and togetherness in to the last five games and push for our objectives this season."

The initial diagnosis that Bale would miss only two matches when Basle's David Degen stood on his ankle on April 4, twisting it a right angle to his right leg, seemed optimistic.

Bale started sluggishly yesterday, but he discovered his explosive pace in the second half, dismissing fears that the tackle had caused long-term damage.

"My ankle was all right," Bale said.

"It was touch and go whether I was going to play but I got through it OK.

"It was a bit sore maybe in the first half but I got more confidence in the second half.

"It's just about managing it and carrying on."

There were no signs that Defoe's pelvis injury, which had kept him out for three weeks, troubled him yesterday, and Spurs will be further boosted by the expected return of Aaron Lennon from a knee problem for Saturday's trip to Wigan.

All that has left Holtby, who supplied Defoe for his goal, in an upbeat mood about Spurs' chances of qualifying for the Champions League.

The German said: "The belief in the team is high. Gareth and Jermain came back and scored.

"The roof's just really going up and with Aaron Lennon coming back we're going to be even stronger."

PA

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week