English Premiership

Bale fires Spurs into third

2013-03-30 20:23
Gareth Bale (File)

Swansea - Gareth Bale fired Tottenham into third place in the Premier League as the Welsh star's brilliant strike inspired a crucial 2-1 win at Swansea on Saturday.

Bale teed up Jan Vertonghen for Spurs' opener in the seventh minute, before lashing home his 27th goal of the season for club and country to double the lead.

Michu got one back for Swansea with his 20th goal of a fine first season in English football to set up a nervous finish for Spurs.

But Andre Villas-Boas's team held on to climb two points above Chelsea and remain four points ahead of fifth placed Arsenal.

Spurs' top four challenge is back on track after successive defeats against Liverpool and Fulham and they had Bale to thank as the Wales international shone on his return to his homeland.

Tottenham were ahead after just seven minutes when Bale produced a sublime lofted pass to catch Dwight Tiendalli out of position and play in Vertonghen.

The Belgium defender brought the ball down and slotted beyond the advancing Michel Vorm to give the visitors the lead.

Swansea should have been two goals down just six minutes later. Moussa Dembele put Emmanuel Adebayor clear on goal, only for the Togo striker to fire tamely at Vorm.

But the lead was doubled in the 21st minute courtesy of yet another moment of magic from Bale.

When Vertonghen found Bale on the edge of the Swansea penalty area, the midfielder displayed all his talents as he took one deft touch before dispatching an unstoppable strike past Vorm.

Nathan Dyer missed a gilt-edged chance to get Swansea back in the match after 35 minutes.

The winger was picked out by Tiendalli but smashed his header against the bar from just four yards.

Michu also headed wide from another excellent Tiendalli centre.

Swansea enjoyed further pressure after the interval and Brad Friedel, playing due to Hugo Lloris' knee injury, had to be alert to deny Michu after Wayne Routledge had fed him from a quick free-kick.

Their attacking ambitions left the hosts stretched at the back and former Swansea loan star Gylfi Sigurdsson drew a sharp stop from Vorm with a wicked dipping strike.

Michu then wasted another excellent opportunity as he headed wide from a good position.

But Michu gave the Swans hope in the 70th minute as he found the net for the first time since the League Cup final win over Bradford.

Substitute Ki Sung-yueng delivered a superb corner and Michu made no mistake as he directed a header in off the far post.

Bale raced up the other end, taunting and teasing the Swansea defence, before rolling a shot against the outside of the post, but it was brief respite for Spurs.

Temperatures were raised on both benches after Spurs fitness coach Jose Mario Rocha tried to prevent Swansea taking a quick throw.

Words were exchanged between Rocha, Steffan Freund and Swansea's Alan Curtis and Oscar Garcia as play continued, although the situation was eventually diffused and Spurs held on.


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