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Two goals from Gareth Bale gave Tottenham Hotspur victory over Newcastle United and temporarily put them in third position in the Barclays Premier League.
Gareth Bale lived up to his billing as Tottenham Hotspur's Cristiano Ronaldo after firing Andre Villas-Boas' side to a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United at White Hart Lane.
Villas-Boas was at pains to point out the similarities between Bale and Ronaldo during the week, and the Welshman put in a performance the Portuguese would have been proud of today. He beat Tim Krul with a 25-yard free-kick to open the scoring and sealed the win with a breakaway goal that ended with him slotting the ball between the Newcastle goalkeeper's legs.
Newcastle dominated large parts of the game but Bale, like he has done so many times this season, swung the game in Spurs' favour. The 23-year-old, who scored the decisive goals in Tottenham's last two matches, has 19 goals for club and country this season. Only the athleticism of Krul prevented Bale taking home the match ball for the second time this season.
Newcastle's goal came from Yoan Gouffran, who was later carried off on a stretcher with a leg injury.
The win stretched Tottenham's unbeaten Barclays Premier League run to 10 matches and put the North London club in to third, although Chelsea will have a chance to move ahead of their rivals if they beat Wigan Athletic later.
Just 70 seconds of the match had elapsed when Bale burst down the left after a clever one-two with Lewis Holtby, but Davide Santon cut the Welshman's cross out before Clint Dempsey could convert.
Three minutes later and Spurs had the lead. Fabricio Coloccini clattered into Dempsey 25 yards out and Bale stepped up to deliver a free-kick which dipped over the wall past a diving Krul. Spurs dominated the rest of the opening quarter with some scintillating attacking football.
Mousa Dembele penetrated the box and rolled the ball back to Holtby, who came within inches of scoring his first goal for the club. Thereafter Newcastle came back in to the game. Hugo Lloris saved from a Gouffran curler and Papiss Cisse directed a free diving header just wide of his compatriot's goal.
Holtby momentarily raised the hopes of the home crowd, but Newcastle remained on top and the seemingly inevitable equaliser came with 24 minutes gone.
Sissoko galloped down the right on a Newcastle counter and pulled the ball back to Gouffran who beat Lloris via a deflection from the diving Michael Dawson. Gutierrez whipped a cross in to the box to find Yohan Cabaye, but the Frenchman miscontrolled and Lloris came to the rescue.
Tottenham failed to up their performance straight after the break. The game came to a pause for seven minutes as Gouffran received treatment for what looked like a serious injury.
Kyle Walker clipped the forward's right shin on the halfway line and he needed oxygen before being carried off on a stretcher. He was taken to hospital for an X-ray.
Bale looked to be Tottenham's best hope of finding a winner. The Welshman, who fired his country to victory over Austria in midweek, picked the ball off Lennon and fired a low cross in to the box but it was cut out before Dempsey could score.
Bale came forward again, charging at the defence before firing a powerful shot which Taylor blocked bravely. But a Taylor mix-up with Coloccini allowed Bale to race through the Newcastle defence and fire past Krul to make it 2-1.
Caulker had a chance to seal the win moments later with a free header when Krul missed a corner, but the defender nodded wide. Only Krul's fingertips prevented the Welshman from adding a third after he raced through from a long punt down field before firing a powerful volley at goal.
Newcastle threatened to equalise in the second of seven added minutes through substitute Shola Ameobi, but Lloris saved well to deny the striker. Krul's acrobatics denied Bale his hat-trick twice in added time, but the winger did not mind. He had already done enough damage to see off Alan Pardew’s side.
Spurs head coach Andre Villas-Boas: "We are fortunate to have players of this dimension who can decide games. He's enjoying his football through the middle.
"Today we started where he finished the second half against West Brom [last weekend]. We gave him the same freedom. When a player feels good about the position he enjoys it more."
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew: "Well he [Bale] is difficult to contain. We tied him down in certain areas but he's always going to get some freedom. He was electric. The first goal was class. We should have done better for the second."
"They started really fast, but after that we dug in and played some good stuff. It was an even game really other than after that second goal which opened it up.
"I was pleased with the performance but not the result. We should be all right now.
“[Gouffran’s] shinbone looks sore. It's fingers crossed. We don't want to lose him, he's only just come to the club."
|25 Feb 2013||v West Ham (A)|
|03 Mar 2013||v Arsenal (H)|
|10 Mar 2013||v Liverpool (A)|
|17 Mar 2013||v Fulham (H)|
|30 Mar 2013||v Swansea (A)|
|07 Apr 2013||v Everton (H)|