Bale brace inspires Spurs romp
Welsh ace bags two goals as Tottenham keep up with leaders
By Razwan Mirza. Last Updated: 31/01/12 10:52pm
Tottenham continued their title challenge thanks to a Gareth Bale inspired 3-1 victory at home to hapless Wigan at White Hart Lane.
The Welsh wizard was inspirational throughout and his two goals helped the North London club return to winning ways.
The hosts dominated the opening 45 minutes playing their usual brand of free-flowing football and after pummelling the Wigan backline from the opening whistle they eventually took the lead after 29 minutes.
Luka Modric was the instigator as he found Gareth Bale with an exquisite pass and the winger stole inside new signing Jean Beausejour before slotting the ball past Ali Al Habsi inside his near post.
And just five minutes later the hosts doubled their lead and the Croatian midfield schemer was at the centre of the action benefiting from a Wigan ricochet on the edge of the box to lash his right-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Bale scored his second just after the hour mark as Benoit Assou-Ekotto laid the ball into his path and he duly dispatched the ball into the bottom corner.
James McArthur grabbed a late consolation for the Latics with a deflected effort which looped over Brad Friedel, but it wasn't enough to stop the hosts collecting a valuable win.
The win puts pressure back on both Manchester sides at the top of the table and increased Spurs' lead over fourth-place Chelsea to seven points.
Wigan have won none of their last eight Premier League games now and have kept just one clean sheet in their last 20 matches.
Spurs put their recent woes behind them and flew out of the blocks on a sub-zero night in North London.
Al Habsi pulled off a point-blank save from Younes Kaboul's bullet header in the sixth minute and Niko Kranjcar should have tested the Wigan goalkeeper but he miscontrolled while deep inside the away box.
The Croatian went on to miss two more chances before Emmanuel Adebayor, without a goal in his last six games, headed over Kyle Walker's cross. Only a James McCarthy goalline clearance kept the score goalless in the 24th minute after Kaboul beat his marker to meet Rafael van der Vaart's corner.
Spurs were playing some of their best football and it only seemed a matter of time before they scored.
Bale had a fancy scissors kick cleared before and also forced Al Habsi to save at his far post before putting Spurs ahead in the 29th minute.
The Welshman took down Modric's chip at the far post before hooking the ball in on the volley for his 10th of the season.
Van der Vaart worryingly hobbled off with an injury on the half hour and was replaced by Jake Livermore.
Bale then stung Al Habsi's palms with a fierce shot 12 minutes before the break and one minute later Spurs were 2-0 up. Wigan's attempted clearance from a Assou-Ekotto cross ricocheted into Modric's path and he coolly turned and slotted past Al Habsi from 18 yards.
Redknapp, delighted with the strike, performed a little jig on the touchline.
The home fans gave a show of support for their manager by chanting his name and his team ended the first half strongly, with Livermore drawing Al Habsi into a save near to injury-time.
Wigan started the second period brightly. Victor Moses wriggled free from his marker but blazed over before Ledley King put in a crunching tackle to deny Franco Di Santo.
Spurs, always looked dangerous, however, and Bale added his second in the 19th minute of the second half. The winger picked up a pass from Assou-Ekotto on the corner of the box, took one touch past to ease past Ben Watson and fired a peach of a drive across Al Habsi into the far corner.
Yet more chants came in support of Redknapp and he acknowledged the home fans with a proud wave on the touchline.
Di Santo hobbled off after being clattered by Assou-Ekotto and was replaced by Conor Sammon.
The away side pulled a shock consolation back the following minute when McArthur's shot deflected off Scott Parker and looped over Brad Friedel and in off his far post.
McCarthy's pass then laid on Ronnie Stam and he whistled a sharp ball across the box - but no-one was there to tap in.Bale was denied a hat-trick on three separate occasions in the dying minutes, but the Welshman will be happy that his double strike was more than enough for the club to seal an easy win.
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Statistics||Wigan Athletic|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|10||Shots on Target||3|
|7||Shots off Target||4|
|66.7||1st Half Poss.||33.3|
|58.9||2nd Half Poss.||41.1|
Barclays Premier League
|7||West Ham United||22||36|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||22||22|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||22||19|