Football: Gareth Bale's phenomenal run continues. The Welshman made it nine goals in seven games for club and country as Tottenham moved into third place in the Premier League with a last-gasp win over West Ham.
As has so often been the case in recent weeks, when Tottenham needed a saviour, Bale stepped forward in emphatic fashion.
With this thrilling encounter heading for a draw, Bale collected the ball 30 yards from West Ham's goal before unleashing a dipping drive beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen and into the top corner to give the north Londoners all three points.
Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas is surely running out of superlatives for his star player, who seems to be adding millions to his price tag with every passing game. Nonetheless the Portuguese gave it his best shot to sum up the contribution of a player who scored twice and helped create Gylfi Sigurdsson's tap-in that brought the visitors level to 2-2.
"Gareth Bale is unbelievable, a super talent," gushed Villas-Boas, whose side now lead fourth-placed Chelsea by two points and fifth-placed Arsenal, who visit White Hart Lane on Sunday, by four.
"We have seen him at another level this season. He makes the difference in every single game."
Villas-Boas fittingly paid tribute to Irons keeper Jaaskelainen, who made countless saves over the course of the match and didn't deserve to be on the wrong end of a defeat.
With this loss, West Ham slip to 14th, though remain six points clear of the relegation zone.
It might have been all so different had substitute Matt Taylor buried a chance for the home side midway through the second half when they were leading 2-1. However Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris raced off his line to deny the former Portsmouth man, who has beaten the visitors' offside trap.
Moments later Sigurdsson took advantage of a goalmouth scramble that had resulted from a Bale free kick from the right and Spurs sensed blood.
Earlier Bale had given his side a 13th-minute lead. The in-form star punished the West Ham defence for backing off him — a mistake that would be repeated for his winner — by lashing the ball home from the edge of the area.
West Ham were level on 25 minutes when Andy Carroll converted a penalty he had earned when he was brought down by a rash challenge from former Hammers hero Scott Parker.
When Joe Cole ghosted into the area and scored with a low drive from a tight angle, a famous win looked on the cards for the home side, whose fans created a sparkling atmosphere on a night that marked the 20th anniversary of the death of club legend Bobby Moore.
The former Chelsea and Liverpool winger ripped off his shirt, defying the bitterly cold temperatures, and beat his chest as Boleyn faithful began dreaming of a first win over Tottenham since September 2010.
Jaaskelainen did his best to make that dream a reality, with the Finn thwarting defender Steven Caulker three times over the course of the match, as well as pulling off stops from Emmanuel Adebayor, who should have given Tottenham the lead when the game was poised at 1-1, and again from Sigurdsson late on.
Alas, Jaaskelainen's heroics would amount to nothing as Bale was allowed to fire away his shot under minimal pressure and the ball pierced the winter air like an arrow before finding its way into the corner of the net.
Villas-Boas's side face a tricky run of games now that includes a Europa League tie against Inter Milan, as well as a trip to Liverpool. First up in that sequence is Arsenal this Sunday, but the Tottenham manager said this victory leaves his side well-placed to deal a killer blow in the battle to seal a place in next season's Champions League.
"The gap to second place is not big and we have a chance to put Arsenal away on Sunday," he said. "The north London derby is going to be very passionate and if we can put Arsenal seven points away it will be a big step for us."
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