Gareth Bale winner against Sunderland in vain as Tottenham finish fifth
Last Updated: 20/05/13 10:01am
Gareth Bale's brilliance did not prove to be enough for Tottenham
Gareth Bale scored a stunning goal as Tottenham beat Sunderland 1-0 at White Hart Lane, but they missed out on a place in the top four as Arsenal also won on the final day of the season.
Spurs needed to win to stand any chance of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League but it looked like they would be frustrated until Bale rounded off a wonderful individual campaign with another special strike in the 90th minute.
However, Arsenal's victory at Newcastle United ensured that Tottenham would have to settle for a fifth-place finish despite a record points haul in the Premier League.
Best of the match
- Man of the match: Gareth Bale. The Welsh star was a constant menace and should have had a penalty in the first half, before he eventually grabbed the winner with a stunning goal.
- Moment of the match: Bale had one moment of brilliance left in his wonderful season as he struck a powerful, swerving effort past Simon Mignolet from at least 25 yards.
- Save of the match: Mignolet made several good stops but arguably the best save of the match came from Hugo Lloris, who got down well to his left to keep out a Danny Graham strike early in the second half.
- Talking point: Bale was again the match-winner for Tottenham but, after missing out on a place in the top four, will they be able to keep hold of him?
The margin of Spurs' victory could have been more convincing had they been granted any of several penalty appeals, while Sunderland also defended doggedly and Simon Mignolet pulled off a series of fine saves.
The onus was on Tottenham to take the attack to a Sunderland side whose Premier League survival had been guaranteed by Wigan Athletic's loss to Arsenal, and the first half was dominated by the hosts at White Hart Lane without reward.
It looked like the breakthrough would come in the 21st minute when Bale was sent tumbling in the area by a push from Sebastian Larsson, but instead of giving a penalty referee Andre Marriner felt that the Welshman had dived and issued a yellow card which sparked a furious reaction from the player and the crowd.
Spurs had another appeal for a spot-kick waved away when Bale's shot from close range crashed into the arm of Jack Colback, while Mignolet made decent saves from Emmanuel Adebayor, Tom Huddlestone and a Bale free-kick.
Sunderland were disciplined in defence but only broke forward sporadically, with Hugo Lloris showing quick reflexes at his near post to repel a close-range flick from Connor Wickham.
Lloris again had to be alert to pull off a fine save down to his left from Danny Graham at the start of the second half after lazy play from Huddlestone in midfield had allowed Sunderland to pinch the ball.
Tottenham then had another shout for a penalty waved away by the referee when Carlos Cuellar looked to handle Adebayor's shot as he slipped to the floor, and the feeling of frustration grew as news filtered through of Arsenal's lead against Newcastle.
Colback made two goal-line clearances to deny Scott Parker and then Aaron Lennon in quick succession, and a number of chances came and went as Mignolet continued to impress and Sunderland's whole team worked hard.
The Black Cats were reduced to ten men in the 75th minute, however, when David Vaughan was shown a red card for a second bookable offence.
Spurs finally netted the goal they deserved when Bale cut back inside 25 yards from goal and fizzed a spectacular, curling shot past a despairing Mignolet and into the top corner.
The final few moments were spent with the fans desperately wishing to hear that Newcastle had pegged back Arsenal, and when that news never materialised it left the taste of victory very bittersweet.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas admitted after the final whistle that he was sad to miss out on a Champions League spot, but insisted his side would improve next season and could keep hold of Bale.
He said: "It is a bit disappointing obviously but it did not depend on us and Arsenal did their job to sneak fourth spot."
"To manage so many points and not make it means the level has come up, and it serves a reference for next season."
Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio felt there were positives for Sunderland to take from their defeat and was proud of the character shown by his players.
He said: "We're obviously disappointed with the result but the lads have done a very good job. They gave everything in terms of commitment and desire but we're still going back with zero points from the game.
"Gareth Bale made the difference once again for Tottenham with a great piece of play."
Barclays Premier League
Sun 19th May
Chelsea2 - 1Everton
Liverpool1 - 0QPR
Man City2 - 3Norwich
Newcastle0 - 1Arsenal
So'ton1 - 1Stoke
Swansea0 - 3Fulham
Tottenham1 - 0S'land
W Brom5 - 5Man Utd
West Ham4 - 2Reading
Wigan2 - 2A Villa
Barclays Premier League
|6||West Ham United||12||18|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||12||13|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||12||8|