Sunday, 25 September 2011

Bale the hero as Spurs beat Wigan


In a town famous for it's pies, Spurs made a meal of beating ten man Wigan as Gareth Bale once again proved the hero.

Harry Redknapp's men looked dead certs for a Champions League spot as Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale fired them two goals up in 23 minutes.

But their confidence waned when Mohamed Diame grabbed a goal back and they actually got worse after Steve Gohouri was sent off for a second yellow card.

Despite having the man advantage they limped to victory with Redknapp clearly anxious on the sidelines as his time crept over the finishing line.

Redknapp said: ``It was complete domination in the first half and we could have come in three or four ahead.

``I said the only way they'd get in the game is if we did something stupid.

``We gave a sloppy goal away trying to play it in the box, got punished and it changed everything.''

The Spurs chief was right, a Tottenham team missing Jermaine Defoe through illness, flew out of the traps.

For Redknapp, losing Defoe and hamstring strain victim Roman Pavlyuchenko might have been a worry.

But that's not the case when your opponents cough up goals like Wigan.

That's the one thing you can always be sure about with the Latics – there is always someone on hand to drop a clanger.

This time it was regular left-back Maynor Figueroa, looking flustered in a new role at the heart of Wigan's defence, who was at fault.

When the ball reached him standing as the last man in the third minute, panic took over.

His underhit back pass rolled to Emmanuel Adebayor and following a gallop into the box, the frontman slid a pass for van der Vaart to clinically net.

Wigan were shell-shocked and Adebayor should have capitalised in the fifth minute when Kyle Walker raided down the right.

Walker's low cross found his unmarked striker in the box and the former Arsenal man inexcusably blasted over from close range.

Old school he may be, but Redknapp had the nouse to work out the perfect tactics to trap Wigan in their own half and his plan was being rewarded.

Martinez's footballing ethos dictates his defenders play the ball out from the back, Spurs closed them down quickly and stole the ball regularly.

Gareth Bale was next to benefit from the strategy. He had time to plant a cross on Walker's head and the defender woefully guided a free header wide.

There was no escape for Wigan when Bale was presented with the chance though.

Luka Modric fired a corner to the near post and the Welshman burst past the hapless Figueroa to glance a header past the exposed Ali Al-Habsi.
Five minutes later another corner and nearly the same result. Once again Bale beat his marker to the ball, this time his effort fizzed over the bar.

Adebayor was next to be afforded space by Figueroa and his rasping 20-yard drive had Al-Habsi clawing the ball to safety.

And still the bombardment would not stop. Wigan's inability to keep hold of the ball ensured that.

Poor Franco Di Santo had the thankless task of leading a Latics attack on his own – a job made all the harder by Ledley King's domineering presence at the back for Spurs.

Tottenham had won their last six Premier League games with him in the starting line-up, a run that was to continue.

Di Santo has a decent goal record this term with three strikes in as many games. That has prompted the suggestion by Martinez he could soon be partnering Lionel Messi in the Argentine attack.

The former Chelsea youngster had little opportunity here to prove that notion was not as far fetched as it sounds.

It was Diame who took the chance to impress. Fed a pass by sub Ronnie Stam in the 50th minute on the edge of the area, he used his muscular frame to hold off defenders and arrow a shot past Brad Friedel.

The fight back looked on. That was until Steve Gohouri booted Bale up in the air in the 63rd minute having already been booked for pulling the Welsh flier back.

Ref Jon Moss had no option but to show him down the tunnel. A chance for Spurs to ease to the finishing line. They still struggled to maintain their advantage though.

Frustratingly the killer third goal would not come. Younes Kaboul leapt well at a corner only to direct his header off target.

He then thumped a free-kick at goal that took a deflection and bounced off the bar. It would have avoided a nervy ending but in the end it did not matter.

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