(Bale – 20, 72, Van der Vaart – 33)
(Bothroyd – 62)
Gareth Bale struck either side of half-time to condemn QPR to a 3-1 defeat on a wet Sunday evening at White Hart Lane.
The Welshman opened the scoring after 20 minutes before Rafael Van der Vaart doubled Spurs’ advantage just after the half-hour mark while substitute Jay Bothroyd was on hand to give Neil Warnock’s side hope of a fight-back 17 minutes after the restart by the tie was settled 10 minutes later, Bale on hand once more to fire home.
Harry Redknapp made only one change from the side that beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 last weekend, Ledley King coming in for Sebastien Bassong, while William Gallas was forced to settle for a spot on the bench after recovering from a calf problem.
The home side looked to take the intiative early on and set out their intentions for the fixture, Paddy Kenny on hand early on to deny Van der Vaart with an excellent point-blank save from the Dutchman while the QPR shotstopper did well to parry an early Bale effort away.
Emmanuel Adebayor then could, and perhaps should, have done better from a Bale free-kick, but his close-range glancing header failed to trouble Kenny in the QPR goal.
Nonetheless, the opener came four minutes later, Brad Friedel launching a goal-kick up-field and finding Adebayor who knocked down to Van der Vaart and, following a darting Aaron Lennon run across the back-four, picked on the England man who squared to Bale to excellently power home past Kenny.
The lead could have been doubled minutes later as both Van der Vaart tested Kenny once-more before Bale turned Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s cross over the bar.
Unsurprisngly, it was 2-0 to Spurs just after the half-hour mark, Ledley King breaking forward launching a wayward effort that was heading fro a goal-kick only to conveniently pick out Van der Vaart who, after failing to put it past Kenny, made no mistake from 16-yards out, sending the former Sheffield United keeper the wrong way in the progress.
Luka Modric then saw two excellent attempts on goal drift aimlessly wide, the first a turn-and-volley from a Van der Vaart corner before poking wide after a superb slick passing move.
With the half-time whistle approaching, Adebayor found some space on the left after being released by Kyle Walker but his finesse effort drifted just yards wide of the far post.
Neil Warnock made two changes at half-time and despite Spurs starting brightly with Van der Vaart testing Kenny once again, it was the visitors that looked the better of the two after the interval.
Heidur Helguson saw his effort deflected over for a corner and from the resulting corner, Helguson headed Joey Barton’s corner into the path of Jay Bothroyd who had the simple task of heading in from six-yards.
Sensing a come-back was on the cards, the West London side continued to press for an equaliser as Friedel got down well to deny Alejandro Faurlin while at the other end, Kenny was on hand to deny Bale, after spilling Van der Vaart’s free-kick, while Assou-Ekotto’s 20-yard effort was palmed away from danger.
Nonetheless, with QPR pushing forward, they were always in danger of falling short at the back and after 73 minutes, Spurs found a reprieve from Bale. Scott Parker broke in from the right and found Van der Vaart who, after some clever footwork, picked out Lennon on the edge of the box before the winger exchanged passes with Bale who lashed home from 18-yards to make it 3-1, and settle the affair.
Adebayor came close to increasing Spurs’ advantage, but his 10-yard effort trickled just inces wide while at the other end, Bale and Younes Kaboul were on-hand to clear off the line following some extended spells of pressure towards the end.
What Redknapp had to say
“It was a fantastic performance. In the first half we played some great football and moved the ball quickly. The movement and passing was incredible,” Redknapp said after the game.
“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.
“Suddenly they got a lifeline at 2-1 and it changes games so that third goal was important. I said at half-time we shouldn’t relax in the second half but, to be fair to them, they came out and raised their game.
“Overall we were outstanding today.”
Man of the Match
While Bale grabbed the headlines with his brace, Scott Parker was the man to keep things ticking over working absolutely brilliantly in the middle of the park to keep Barton at bay in the midfield. Substituted after 85 minutes after covering every blade of grass on the day, it was hardly surprising he trudged off the pitch to a standing ovation from the home-crowd, being replaced by Sandro for the remainder of the match.
Moment of the Match
While Bale’s second was superb in terms of movement and the overall finish, his first goal was one that settled the nerves of the Spurs fans. Friedel smashed it up-field, Adebayor’s knock-down to Van der Vaart, Lennon’s run and pass to Bale who capped off an excellent route-one move. 10.42 seconds from Friedel to the QPR net and only seven touches saw Spurs rewarded for some early pressure.