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Premier League: West Brom 0 Tottenham 1

A stunning second half strike from Gareth Bale was enough to help Tottenham Hotspur overcome West Brom on Sunday.

The winger’s long-range effort marked the long-awaited end of the game’s goalless first two-thirds, with the visitors having been handed the momentum by Mark Clattenburg’s sending off of Goran Popov early in the second half.

The red card was shown to the Argentine in the 47th minute for spitting in the direction of Kyle Walker.

The hosts’ reduction to 10 men did plenty to change the identity of the match and Spurs eventually went on to exploit their numerical advantage in goals as well as pressure.

The result allows Andre Villas-Boas’ men to continue their quest for fourth place, taking them to within a point of Chelsea in third. The hosts, meanwhile, remain in ninth level with Michael Laudrup’s Swansea.

The opening stages of the match were cagey, with the West Brom’s forward pairing of Shane Long and Romelu Lukaku linking well if sporadically, and midfield schemers Mousa Dembele and Chris Brunt both showing teasing flashes of creativity without being able to fully dictate proceedings.

As half-time approached, Andre-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 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.

It was no surprise as to who was the man to do so, 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 the Spurs’ continued pressure failed to increase their lead, with much foraging and a succession of set-pieces from the visitors not enough to further permeate West Brom’s backline.

Sun 3 February, 2013
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