Bale stars at both ends as Tottenham ride luck

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 vs LIVERPOOL 1

TOTTENHAM manager Andre Villas-Boas admitted his team had been lucky last night after they survived a Liverpool fight-back to clinch consecutive wins for the first time since September and climb to fifth in the Premier League.

In-form winger Gareth Bale laid on the first for Aaron Lennon and struck the second himself with a 30-yard free-kick, before the Welshman’s comical own goal sparked the visitors back into life.

Riled Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insisted the visitors should have had two penalties, accusing Mousa Dembele of “nearly assaulting” Steven Gerrard and William Gallas of impeding Luis Suarez.

Spurs defender Kyle Walker cleared off the line, Reds midfielder Jordan Henderson missed an open goal from 20 yards and Jose Enrique threatened to level three times. Villas-Boas conceded his team had ridden their luck.

“A draw would have maybe been fairer, I have to agree with that,” said the Spurs boss. “But sometimes it’s important to get three points like this by fighting. Liverpool in the second half were very strong.”

Victory lifted Tottenham back above Everton and north London rivals Arsenal, while Liverpool, with just one win in nine in all competitions, sunk to 12th, ahead of Norwich only on goal difference.

“I thought we should have had two [penalties]. It’s incredible,” said Rodgers. “Gerrard’s was nearly assault, how was that not a penalty? Second one, Suarez spins and William Gallas swings his left foot and he goes down.”

Bale terrorised Liverpool early on and provided Lennon with an easy finish for the opening goal after just seven minutes. He doubled the lead nine minutes later when his free-kick swerved as it flew over the wall, perhaps taking a deflection, wrong-footing a bamboozled Pepe Reina.

Suarez saw his prod at goal cleared from the goalmouth by Walker and Henderson missed under pressure with the net gaping, but it was not until the 72nd minute that Liverpool got a reward for their pressure.

Substitute Jonjo Shelvey’s free-kick found its way to captain Gerrard, whose header Lennon hacked off the line only to see it rebound off Bale’s face and bounce past him, flooring the Spurs star in the process.