Premier League: Tottenham held off a spirited Swansea fightback to win 2-1
By Pete Hall. Follow me: @Pistolpeteh86. Last Updated: 30/03/13 7:41pm
Gareth Bale: Celebrates excellent second goal
Tottenham held off a spirited Swansea fightback to secure a vital 2-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium, which kept them on course for a top-four finish.
Sublime goals from Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale put Spurs in pole position to get back to winning ways after back-to-back league defeats.
However, the home side rallied in the second half and got themselves back in it thanks to Michu, who headed his 11th home league goal of the season to ensure a nervy end to the game for the travelling Spurs faithful.
The visitors managed to hang on though and moved up to third thanks to results elsewhere, whilst the Swans remain comfortable in ninth.
Best of the Match
- Man of the Match: Jan Vertonghen. Superb going forward, and took his chance like a top striker.
- Goal of the Match: Both excellent but Bale's powerful strike just about edges it.
- Save of the Match: Brad Friedel. Alert to quick free-kick to thwart Michu.
- Talking Points: Huge win for Spurs. Could they even break top three? Swansea are safe. Where will they finish?
It did not take long for Spurs get into their stride, and the in-form Bale turned provider for a change, lofting a sublime pass on the turn into the path of the onrushing Vertonghen, who plucked the ball out of the air and prodded a shot past Michel Vorm.
With only one clean sheet in the last nine Premier League games, Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas will not have been sitting comfortably, but just 15 minutes later the same two players combined to devastating effect to double the visitors' lead.
Vorm's poor clearance found its way to Vertonghen, who carried the ball forward, drilled a pass into the feet of Bale and he took one touch before lashing an unstoppable shot past the helpless Swansea keeper.
Michael Laudrup needed a response from Swansea, and the shell-shocked home side upped their game and started to create more opportunities, the best of which was wasted by Nathan Dyer, who could only head Dwight Tiendalli's pinpoint centre onto the underside of the bar from close range.
The home side continued to increase their intensity in the second period, and looked much more of a threat going forward.
A quickly taken free-kick caught Spurs sleeping, but Brad Friedel reacted well to smother Michu's prod towards goal.
The Swans' pressure did eventually tell on 71 minutes as Michu outjumped a flat-footed Michael Dawson to head a right-wing corner into the bottom corner.
Bale did almost make it three, clipping the bottom of the post after a mazy run, but arguably his most important contribution was a last-ditch block in injury-time to thwart Dyer when he looked odds-on to net a dramatic equaliser.
Speaking after the game, Villas-Boas was pleased to see Spurs pick up some momentum in the pursuit of Champions League qualification following recent defeats by Liverpool and Fulham.
"It was an important victory after back-to-back defeats," he said. "We cannot expect to dominate away from home, but we had a couple of chances to make it three which would have helped us. Momentum shifts quickly, but we just have to keep winning."
Swansea boss Laudrup was left to rue a slow start to the game after falling 2-0 down after just 21 minutes.
Laudrup said: "They just started better than us. The second goal we couldn't have done much about, as Gareth Bale made the difference. But the first we should have done much better with. We had five against two in our favour."
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