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MATCH REPORT

Wigan fall as Spurs return to winning ways

A Luka Modric strike sandwiched between a Gareth Bale brace was enough to see Tottenham Hotspur return to winning ways against a Wigan Athletic side who remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League.

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Tottenham Hotspur 3

(Bale – 29, 64, Modric – 34)

Wigan Athletic 1

(McArthur – 80)

A Luka Modric strike sandwiched between a Gareth Bale brace was enough to see Tottenham Hotspur return to winning ways against a Wigan Athletic side who remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League.

James McArthur struck late on for the Latics, but it proved to be a mere consolation for Roberto Martinez’s side, who stretched their losing streak to eight following Tuesday evening’s defeat at White Hart Lane.

Bale returned to the starting XI after sitting out the 1-0 win over Watford on Friday night and was to be joined by Ledley King, Niko Kranjcar, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Brad Friedel in their return to the starting XI.

Harry Redknapp’s side started brightly and it took a flying Ali Al Habsi save to deny Younes Kaboul early towering header.

Spurs attempted to make their early pressure count as Kranjcar twice went close, Modric drilled just over and Kaboul was again denied in the first-half, this time McArthur was on-hand to deny the Frenchman on the line.

The home side sensed the opener was coming and in the 33rd minute, Bale struck. Modric delivered an inch-perfect cross-field ball to the Welshman before the winger controlled and volleyed past Al Habsi into the Wigan net from close range.

And it wasn’t long before Spurs made it 2-0, James Caldwell’s attempted clearance from Assou-Ekotto’s cross rebounded off Jordi Gomez and to the feet of Modric who smashed home into the bottom corner from 20-yards.

Rafael Van der Vaart was replaced by Jake Livermore late on in the opening 45 minutes after suffering a minor calf pull as the remainder of the first-half without incident.

Looking to start the second-half where they finished the first, Spurs tried to make their dominance count as Emmanuel Adebayor, surprisingly quiet in the early exchanges, glanced a header just over.

Wigan enjoyed their best spell of the game shortly after with Victor Moses blasting over before Gomez fired straight at Friedel.

However, any hopes of launching a comeback were dashed in the 64th minute as Modric picked out Assou-Ekotto on the left. The Cameroonian international rolled through the marauding Bale, who evaded the challenge of Ben Watson before firing low past Al Habsi with a goal reminiscent to his strike at Inter Milan last season.

Sandro was introduced with 15 minutes remaining in his first appearance since the 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion and it was a debut for young Cameron Lancaster, who found himself on the bench following a hamstring complaint to Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko completing his move to Lokomotiv Moscow.

The Latics continued to press for a goal and it arrived with 10 minutes left to play when Moses found McArthur in the Spurs box. His effort ricocheted off Scott Parker and looped over Friedel to give the travelling support something to smile about on a cold evening in North London.

Bale pressed for the fourth goal of the night, and his third, but it wasn’t to be with the youngster denied twice by Al Habsi with an effort into the side netting sandwiched between the two before Lee Probert blew up for full-time as Spurs kept up the heat on the top two, tightening the gap at the summit of the table to five points.

What Redknapp had to say.

“We played ever so well in the first half, went 2-0 up but then we had a problem,” said Redknapp.

“We lost Rafa to injury and then we had Ade up front on his own and no more strikers.

“That meant the only support for Ade was Niko and Gareth, who were excellent.

“We were completely in control in the first half and played some great stuff.

“It was harder in the second half. We didn’t have a forward ball, so we had possession and took longer to get forward. We didn’t play with the same fluency as we did in the first half, but it was still a great performance.”

Man of the match.

Gareth Bale gave an electrifying performance on a bitterly cold evening at White Hart Lane, popping up with two goals and came close to adding a third, a constant thorn in the Wigan’s defensive back-line, the Welshman continues to prove his worth to the Spurs team. Notable mentions go to Younes Kaboul, Scott Parker and Luka Modric, all of whom played exceptionally well as Harry Redknapp’s side got back to winning ways.

Moment of the match.

Gareth Bale’s opener had been coming and after keeping the Spurs front-line at bay in the opening exchanges, Ali Al Habsi was finally beaten on the half-hour mark. Luka Modric spread the play exceptionally well to the winger who controlled brilliantly before firing past the Oman international. Elsewhere, young Cameron Lancaster received a rapturous applause when introduced for Emmanuel Adebayor late-on while Benoit Assou-Ekotto was lucky to have escaped punishment after lunging in on Franco Di Santo, forcing the Argentine off.

Ben McAleer

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