Gareth Bale gave Tottenham Hotspur an early lead and then secured a crucial three points with a late winner to give Spurs a 2-1 win over Newcastle United. The victory at White Hart Lane temporarily puts Spurs in third place, two points ahead of Chelsea who play at Wigan later in the day.
Spurs (14-6-6, 48 points) haven’t lost a league match since December 9, with six wins and four draws in their last 10 games. Newcastle (7-13-6, 27 points) had won two straight matches, including an impressive 3-2 win over Chelsea in their last match, before falling at Tottenham.
Spurs, playing without top scorer Jermain Defoe, got on the board first in the fifth minute after American Clint Dempsey was fouled making a run towards the box. Bale stepped up to take the free kick, curling it over a mostly stationary wall, before it dipped down past goalkeeper Tim Krul, into the lower corner.
Newcastle leveled the score in the 24th minute when Moussa Sissoko got forward down the right flank and sent a pass from the endline back to Yoan Gouffran. Gouffran blasted a shot towards goal that deflected off a sliding Michael Dawson, leaving Hugo Lloris with no chance as the ball flew into the upper corner.
Newcastle looked to be gaining control of the match heading into halftime, but Spurs would come out of the break with renewed vigor. Bale scored the game winner in the 78th minute after he picked off an attempted clearance from Newcastle, ran in alone on goal, and slotted past Krul to make give Spurs the 2-1 lead.
Nine minutes later Bale had another chance, when he got behind a stretched Newcastle defense. This time the Welshman blasted a shot on frame, but Krul was equal to it with an impressive save.
The visiting Newcastle then had a great chance to tie it four minutes into stoppage time, when substitute Shola Ameobi picked off a poor touch from Benoit Assou-Ekotto in the defensive third. Ameobi ran in on goal, but Lloris was quick off his line to tip it wide at the last second.
Bale then had two chances to score a third late into stoppage time. First, Dempsey chipped a pass from the left side of the box that bounced past the keeper, leaving Bale with an open net to shoot at, but the speedy winger sent his effort high. Soon after Spurs had a numbers advantage again and after some nice combination play between Dempsey, Adebayor and Bale, Bale’s eventual effort was saved by a diving Krul.
Spurs take a break from Premier League play this week, facing off against French side Olympique Lyonnais in the Europa League Round of 32. Spurs open the two-leg aggregate goal series at home on Thursday, February 14, and then travel to Lyon for the second leg on February 21.