SPURS boss Andre Villas-Boas hailed new dad Gareth Bale after the winger returned to the side yesterday following the birth of his first child and scored Tottenham’s opening goal of a narrow victory at St Mary’s.
Bale’s header gave the visitors the lead after a quarter an hour, with Clint Dempsey doubling it before half-time. Southampton fought back with a 67th minute goal by Jay Rodriguez, but Spurs held on to claim three points.
“I am extremely happy for him,” Villas-Boas said. “He is a massive player for the team. He is a player that can make a difference with small opportunities. He certainly did that today and scored.
“It was good for him to be back on the scoresheet. He is certainly someone we rate very, very highly and can go all the way to becoming one of the best.”
Villas-Boas’ side threatened the Southampton goal on several occasions early on, before taking the lead a quarter of an hour into the game. Tom Huddlestone dinked a diagonal ball to the far post where Bale rose well and powered a header downwards and past Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc.
And in the 40th minute Aaron Lennon found Jermain Defoe who slid the ball past Boruc. Jose Fonte tried to clear the ball off the line but could only turn it into the path of the onrushing Dempsey, who made it 2-0.
Southampton rallied after the break, and controlled the ball for much of the second half. Maya Yoshida somehow failed to knock in an aerial chance from a yard out, but the resulting corner proved lucrative for the Saints.
Fonte flicked on the low cross towards the near post and although Brad Friedel clawed it out, Rodriguez was on hand to knock the rebound in with his right boot.
But Spurs held on, with the win taking them into the top four.