Bale’s brace kills off QPR
Gareth Bale scored twice as Tottenham reinforced the growing belief they are on course for a return to the top four with a 3-1 victory over QPR yesterday.
Rafael Van Vaart was also on target for Spurs, scoring for a fifth successive Premier League game, as Harry Redknapp’s side moved fifth.
Jay Bothroyd’s second-half reply provided little consolation for a Rangers side whose preparations had been overshadowed by the fall-out from the previous week’s win over Chelsea that prompted an FA investigation of allegations of racial abuse directed at Anton Ferdinand by Blues captain John Terry.
Redknapp’s Hotspurs were unbeaten in 10 games coming into this clash and the way they took the game to the visitors confirmed there is no lack of confidence at White Hart Lane right now.
Less than two minutes into the game Van der Vaart turned Luka Modric’s half-hit shot into a pass, turning sharply before striking a left foot effort that brought a good save from Rangers goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.
Kenny needed to enlist the help of team-mate Heidar Helguson at the resulting corner, with the QPR forward clearing Bale’s header off the line before the keeper once again reacted well to deny Van der Vaart.
That forced Rangers to reorganise their backline and the confusion caused by the changes became apparent five minutes later when Emmanuel Adebayor met Van der Vaart’s free-kick with a free header six yards out.
On that occasion the striker missed the target, just as he did moments later when he met Bale’s low cross.
But it was clear the QPR defences were creaking and Bale finally found a way through when he put Tottenham ahead in the 20th minute.
A second Tottenham goal was always likely before the interval and it came in the 33rd minute when Van der Vaart once again made the most of a mishit shot, this time from Ledley King.
Kenny once again produced a fine save to deny Van der Vaart shortly after the break but Rangers began to push Tottenham back and they were back in the game thanks to Bothroyd’s header from a Joey Barton corner in the 62nd minute.
Kenny produced a string of fine saves to deny Van der Vaart, Bale and Modric but he had no chance of denying Bale in the 72 minute.
The build-up was even slicker than for the first goal with Van der Vaart and Lennon once again involved with Bale curling in an excellent shot from the edge of the area.
Bale 20, 72; Van der Vaart 33;
HT: 2-0. Att: 36,147.
Stoke vs Newcastle, 21:00
Saturday: 13.45 Newcastle vs Ever-ton. 16.00 Arsenal vs West Brom; Aston Villa vs Norwich; Blackburn vs Chelsea; Liverpool vs Swansea; Man. United vs Sunderland. 18.30 QPR vs Manchester City.
Sunday: 14.30 Wolves vs Wigan. 16.00 Bolton vs Stoke. 17.00 Fulham vs Tottenham.
Leeds 1 - Cardiff 1