|Spurs are now joint-third in the fiercely contested battle for the coveted fourth spot [GALLO/GETTY]|
Gareth Bale scored twice on Sunday to lead Tottenham to a 3-1 win over Queens Park Rangers that kept his team in fifth place in the English Premier League.
Bale put Spurs ahead in the 20th minute with a low shot to the far post and Rafael van der Vaart made it 2-0 13 minutes later, shooting unmarked past goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.
QPR pressed hard for an equaliser after substitute Jay Bothroyd got a goal back in the 62nd but 10 minutes later Bale twice swapped passes with Aaron Lennon on the edge of the area to work space for a curling shot into the top corner.
“It was a fantastic performance,” Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said.
“In the first half, we played some great football and moved the ball quickly. The movement and passing was incredible.
“They changed how they played, got it forward and played with more intensity in the second half but Gareth finished them off with a great goal.”
Top four hunt
Sunday October 30
Saturday October 29
Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal
Victory took Tottenham to 19 points, behind unbeaten Newcastle and the last of the Champions League places only on goal difference.
Spurs remain unbeaten in 11 matches since August 28 and have a game in hand on three of the four teams above them. QPR, who beat west London rivals Chelsea 1-0 last weekend, are seven points further back in mid-table.
With Tottenham missing a string of chances, Rangers could easily have forced at least a draw. American goalkeeper Brad Friedel saved well from QPR midfielder Alejandro Faurlin in the 65th, but Spurs’ midfield class showed.
Redknapp said Scott Parker had been the crucial player in his side – shielding the back four in a defensive midfield role. The England international has yet to lose a match since signing for $8 million from relegated West Ham in August.
Tottenham dominated the first half at White Hart Lane and forced a string of chances even before Bale’s second Premier League goal of the season.
Kenny saved one-handed from Van der Vaart, Bale had an effort blocked on the line, Benout Assou-Ekotto shot over the bar from a free kick and Emmanuel Adebayor twice missed the target from in front of goal before Van der Vaart found Aaron Lennon in a central position on the edge of the area.
The winger had a chance to shoot but instead slipped the ball to Bale on the left of the box, from where the Wales international shot across Kenny and into the net.
With Parker and Luka Modric running central midfield, Spurs made it 2-0 after captain Ledley King’s mis-hit shot was deflected to Van der Vaart about 12 yards out. The unmarked Netherlands forward had time to pick his spot and lash the ball into the bottom right corner for his sixth Premier League goal of the season.
Modric twice shot wide before halftime, when Warnock gambled with his last two available substitutions. Having been forced to introduce Danny Gabbidon as a replacement for the injured Fitz Hall early on, Warnock took off former Tottenham midfielder Adel Taarabt and Shaun Derry to bring on Bothroyd and Jamie Mackie.
Mackie’s industry helped break Parker’s hold on midfield and QPR scored from a corner kick move. Heidar Helguson headed Joey Barton’s corner back into the middle, where Bothroyd rose highest to nod the ball into the unguarded net.
With Kenny making a stellar double save from Assou-Ekotto and Friedel saving from Faurlin, the home fans were hushed into a nervous silence until Bale settled the match.