Bale brace sink Stoke

2010-08-21 19:10

Stoke - Two goals from Gareth Bale - one fortunate, the other brilliant - helped Tottenham claim a 2-1 win over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

An action-packed encounter, including a late claim for a goal after a Jonathan Walters' header clearly crossed the line, was ultimately decided by the Welsh midfielder although Stoke were unfortunate not to claim a draw in the end.

Stoke were missing record signing Kenwyne Jones, who injured ankle ligaments in the opening day loss to Wolves, yet their meagre attacking options were nothing compared to the problems Harry Redknapp faces at the moment.

Peter Crouch is the only fit striker in the club because Jermain Defoe is out with a groin strain, Robbie Keane has a knee injury and Roman Pavyluchenko and Giovani dos Santos are also injured.

However, neither side appeared to be missing their absent players in a thrilling first half.

Although the first real opportunity did not arrive until the 12th minute when Rory Delap volleyed wide of Heurelho Gomes's far post, it then got better and better.

Ricardo Fuller had a shot well blocked by Michael Dawson and Walters's follow-up attempt was also comfortably saved by Gomes as the encounter started to pick up the pace.

Tottenham took the lead through an outrageous piece of luck for Bale after 19 minutes.

His original close-range shot was well blocked by Thomas Sorensen in the Stoke goal yet the ball fell to Crouch and although his header was then cleared by Ryan Shawcross, the Stoke captain only managed to kick the ball into Bale's face and it rebounded over the line.

The lead lasted just six minutes until Fuller opened his season's account in dubious circumstances.

Gomes appeared to be impeded by Roberth Huth as he came off his line to claim a corner, Abdoulaye Faye clipped the ball back into the six-yard box and Fuller seized his chance from close range.

The advantage then tipped in Spurs' favour again after half an hour as Bale scored his second, an early contender for goal of the season.

Lennon jinxed his way to the edge of the penalty box, drifted a cross to the left wing and Bale met the ball superbly, curling a left-foot volley into the top corner which left Sorensen with no chance.

The attacking did not finish there either as Fuller should then have scored for Stoke just two minutes later but shot too close to Gomes from inside the box.

Spurs evolved into the better team after the interval as Stoke looked too flat and one-dimensional in attack.

Tony Pulis's side miss a playmaker in the middle of the pitch to make something happen and far too often in this game the ball was just punted in the general direction of Fuller with no real purpose.

Stoke also gave Spurs far too much room in midfield as Jermaine Jenas, Lennon and Bale all had the opportunity to create attacking opportunities for their side.

The home side's first real chance after the break came courtesy of a Tuncay shot that took a huge deflection of Younes Kaboul and was sneaking in until Gomes pulled off a tremendous save to tip over the bar.

From the resulting corner, Tuncay then missed a free header from just two yards as Stoke sprang to life and Shawcross also blazed over the bar from close out as they frantically pursued an equaliser.

With eight minutes to go, Bale missed the opportunity for his hat-trick as he shot straight at Sorensen while Fuller also mishit a glorious opportunity at the other end as Gomes comfortably saved his low effort.

Then, in the last minute, a Walters header appeared to cross the line as it hit Crouch in the chest but although referee Chris Foy was perfectly placed he waved away Stoke's frantic protestations.