A stunning second-half strike from Gareth Bale was enough to help Tottenham Hotspur overcome West Bromwich Albion 1-0 on Sunday.
Bale’s long-range effort ended a long deadlock in the English Premier League match at The Hawthorns, with the visitors having been handed momentum by Mark Clattenburg’s dismissal
of Goran Popov early in the second half.
The red card was shown to the Macedonia international in the 47th minute for spitting in the direction of Kyle Walker.
The hosts’ reduction to 10 men did plenty to change the match and Spurs eventually went on to exploit their numerical advantage.
The result sees Andre Villas-Boas’ men push on in their quest for Champions League qualification, taking them to within a point of Chelsea in third. The hosts, meanwhile, remain ninth, level with Michael Laudrup’s Swansea.
The opening stages of the match were cagey, with West Brom’s forward pairing of Shane Long and Romelu Lukaku linking well, if sporadically, and the midfield schemers – Mousa Dembele of Spurs and West Brom’s Chris Brunt – both showing teasing flashes of creativity without being able to fully dictate proceedings.
As half-time approached, Villas-Boas was left rueing his failure to bolster his striking options during the transfer window as Jermain Defoe succumbed to a twisted ankle and limped off to be replaced by Lewis Holtby, with Clint Dempsey filling the void left by the England man.
No sooner had the second period got underway, though, than Popov was dismissed after an exchange with Walker.
A second half of sustained Tottenham pressure duly followed, and after a long period of much away possession but little penetration, the visitors eventually broke the deadlock in the 67th minute.
And it was no surprise who delivered for Spurs, as Bale received a short pass from the onrushing Walker, shifted the ball past James Morrison and lashed a wonderful left-footed strike into the far corner of Ben Foster’s goal.
After the long-awaited opener there was little doubt as to the final result.
The only real surprise was that Spurs’ continued pressure failed to increase their lead, with a succession of set-pieces from the visitors not enough to further penetrate West Brom’s backline.