Gareth Bale Scores In Tottenham Win But Spurs Miss Champions League


Gareth Bale’s late goal earned Tottenham a win and three points against Sunderland but in the bigger picture of Champions League qualification they missed out to Arsenal who won at Newcastle.

Tottenham Hotspur 1  Sunderland 0

Scorer: Bale

Team: Lloris ; Walker, Dawson Vertonghen, Ekotto ; Parker, Huddlestone ; Lennon, Bale, Dempsey, Adebayor.  Subs: (unused) Friedel, Caulker, Naughton, Dembele, Holtby, Sigurdsson, Defoe

Andre Villas-Boas disappointed to miss out on the Champions League [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]The Tottenham team showed just one change from last weekend’s win at Stoke. Benoit Assou-Ekotto returned at left back, having recovered from injury and Jan Vertonghen moved into central defence. Mousa Demele again started on the bench.

Tottenham dominated the first half but didn’t cause the Sunderland goalkeeper any real problems although he had a number of regulation saves to make. Tottenham’s best chance of going ahead should have been from a penalty when Gareth Bale was cleared pushed to the ground as he progressed into the penalty area. A certain penalty but the referee was unimpressed and added insult to injury by booking Bale for diving, the second time that this has happened against Sunderland this season. With a win so crucial to Spurs, that decision going against them was adding to the frustration around White Hart Lane. He had a second appeal later in the half when his shot hit a defender on the hand.

Spurs were intent on getting forward but Sunderland were well-disciplined in defence even though they were missing a number of players. Spurs’ early threat came from Emmanuel Adebayor who had a shot saved by Mignolet. Adebayor was working hard with good movement and Spurs were passing patiently and confidently looking for an opening. Adebayor curled a cross just beyond Bale and after the unsuccessful penalty claim, Tom Huddlestone had a shot saved.

Gareth Bale was annoyed by referee’s decision over penalty claim and booking [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]After thirty minutes Sunderland showed that they could be a threat with Hugo Lloris being called upon to save from Wickham after a cross from the right. A foul on Huddlestone brought a free-kick but Bale’s shot was saved comfortably by the goalkeeper. A moment of danger for Sunderland came when O’Shea headed the ball back towards his goalkeeper but Bale had been lurking behind but couldn’t get a proper touch on the ball. In the latter minutes of the half, Clint Dempsey had a shot saved and in added time Lloris punched clear from a Sunderland free-kick.

With it also scoreless at St. James’ Park, the second half was going to be a tense affair and an early cross from Assou-Ekotto caused problems in the visitors’ defence and a shot from Bale was blocked. Sunderland responded and Lloris had to make a good save with Vertonghen completing the job by hacking the ball clear.

The news of an Arsenal goal at Newcastle increased the pressure on Tottenham but from that point on, Spurs knew that a goal would not be sufficient – they needed Newcastle to equalise.

Tottenham spent much of the second half forcing Sunderland back into their own half with only the rare forward movement from them on the counter-attack. Spurs pressed and pressed – Sunderland worked, defended, harried, blocked shots, deflected shots, conceded corners and free-kicks, the goalkeeper pulled off saves, the ball was cleared off the line – everything that was needed to protect their goal. Even when reduced to ten men with 15 minutes to play, Sunderland battled on.

In one crazy spell, Spurs wondered if they would ever score as the Sunderland defence rocked and rolled from the constant pressure which saw their defence in confusion as a shot from Vertonghen was deflected onto the post. Spurs tried everything but frustration was clearly showing in their play.

With 90 minutes played Gareth Bale once again produced his moment of magic to deliver the winning goal. Similar to the goal in the last home match against Southampton, he moved in from the right and fired a great shot which curled past the diving goalkeeper.

The points were won but it all ended once more in disappointment with no further goals at Newcastle. Spurs finished 5th with 72 points, the highest they have ever achieved in the Premier League, but this season it’s not enough for Champions League qualification.

After the Match – end of season walkabout [Photo: Jav The_DoC-66]The manager, interviewed by BBC  after the game said,

"“We felt we did enough to deserve fourth spot. We are disappointed but we knew these could be the circumstances…..If we want to make it better next season we have to hold on to our best assets and this is what I have been told from the top…..To achieve 72 points and not make it shows that to compete at this level we will probably have to make more than that as other clubs have great, great squads. We will have to do it the Tottenham way……”"

Well done Andre Villas-Boas, congratulations to Gareth Bale on a fantastic season and to the players for their efforts throughout the past ten months. To achieve 72 points is something to be proud of but missing out on Champions League will lead to another summer of uncertainty for Tottenham.