Premier League - Bale strikes twice as Spurs take advantage

Tue, 31 Jan 21:40:00 2012

Gareth Bale reignited Tottenham Hotspur's Premier League title challenge with a brace in their 3-1 victory over Wigan at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham 3 Wigan 1

Tottenham, who are now five points behind both Manchester clubs, took the lead through Bale, who collected Luka Modric's sweeping pass and squeezed the ball inside Ali Al-Habsi's near post.

Spurs lost Rafael van der Vaart to injury but doubled their lead moments later through Modric, who drilled in from 20 yards.

Bale doubled his tally for night with a trademark finish into the bottom corner, before Wigan pegged the home side back through James McArthur's deflected effort.

Bale, playing Wigan on his own at times, could have scored a hat-trick but was thwarted twice late on.

Tottenham's title hopes seemed to have been derailed after their 3-2 defeat at the Etihad Stadium last week.

But with Manchester City's slip-up at Everton, Spurs, who were inspired by the exceptional Bale, were relentless early on against Wigan.

Younes Kaboul twice had clean headers cleared off the line - first by Al-Habsi and then by James McCarthy.

Spurs had Wigan pinned inside their own half for long periods and almost unlocked the Wigan defence when Van der Vaart's extravagant lofted ball over the Wigan defence found Niko Kranjcar, but the Croatian couldn't quite bring down the high ball.

Spurs eventually took the lead just before the half hour and, predictably, it came via the effervescent Bale.

Collecting Modric's sweeping long pass on his chest, Bale cut in from the right before tucking the ball past Al-Habsi inside the near post.

But Spurs were dealt a blow moments later when Van der Vaart's injury curse struck again as the Dutchman limped off with a calf problem.

If Tottenham were affected by the loss of their talisman they certainly didn't show it, as they moved 2-0 up courtesy of Modric.

Maynor Figueroa's attempted clearance ricocheted off Jordi Gomez and straight to Modric, who fired in from the edge of the box.

Wigan toiled for a route into the game with Victor Moses, who fired just over, coming closest to halving Tottenham's lead.

But Spurs were never unduly worried and Bale made it three just after the hour with an expert finish.

Shifting the ball onto his left foot on the edge of the box, Bale bamboozled James McCarthy with a deft drop of his shoulder and explosive finish into the bottom corner.

But Wigan weren't done and, on the balance of play, deserved their consolation when it came ten minutes from time courtesy of the substitute.

Latching onto a pass by Moses, McArthur squeezed a shot in that deflected off Parker, and looped over Brad Friedel and under the bar.

Rather than shut up shop, Tottenham's attacking instincts got the better of them as they persistently pushed for a fourth.

Both big chances fell to Bale, who brought a one-handed save out of Al-Habsi after a mazy run and shot.

Then, deep into injury time, there were shades of the San Siro as Bale left Figueroa in his wake before forcing another first class from Al-Habsi with a low shot across the Omani goalkeeper.

The win was less of a spectacle than their record 9-1 routing of Roberto Martinez's side in 2009, but leaves Spurs close enough to the Premier League summit to be considered challengers again.

Michael Da Silva - on Twitter @mjdasilva / Eurosport

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