Gareth Bale bags brace as Tottenham beat QPR in derby
Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 3 QPR 1
Gareth Bale scored twice as Tottenham closed in on the top four with victory in Sunday’s London derby at White Hart Lane.
Bale opened the scoring and Rafael Van der Vaart doubled Spurs’ lead before Jay Bothroyd’s first QPR goal gave the visitors hope – only for Bale to make it 3-1 and secure the points.
Spurs made all the early running, with Luka Modric picking out Van der Vaart in only the second minute, but his low drive was blocked by Paddy Kenny and scrambled behind.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto also went close with a curling free-kick, while Emmanuel Adebayor climbed to meet an incisive Bale cross, but could only direct his header wide of the post.
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Yet Rangers seemed to have weathered the storm before they fell behind on 20 minutes. Van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon combined to cut through the Rs’ defence and set up Bale, who drilled an unstoppable finish beyond Kenny into the far corner.
From then on, it was one-way traffic and Bale could have had a second, stabbing over from close range after Assou-Ekotto played Adebayor’s cross back into the danger zone.
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It was Van der Vaart who doubled Tottenham’s lead 12 minutes before the break, collecting a miscued pot-shot from Ledley King and clipping a left-foot finish past the stranded Kenny.
Modric might have inflicted further misery on Rangers towards the end of the first period, controlling a short corner on his chest and sending a delicious volley inches wide of the far post.
Kenny was called into action again early in the second half, clawing away a Van der Vaart free-kick and then failing to hold another, but recovering his position to block the follow-up from Bale.
But Neil Warnock’s bold decision to send Bothroyd and Jamie Mackie on at half-time paid dividends just after the hour mark as Heidar Helguson headed back a corner for the England international to open his Rangers account.
With the visitors pressing forward and Alejandro Faurlin forcing a desperate save from Brad Friedel soon afterwards, it looked as if Tottenham’s win was not a foregone conclusion.
But the home side regained their two-goal cushion 18 minutes from the end as Bale and Lennon exchanged passes on the edge of the box and the Welshman beat Kenny with a curling drive.
Tottenham could have increased their margin of victory, with Adebayor bundling wide after Lennon had teed him up, but Rangers continued to press and almost gained an injury-time consolation when Luke Young’s effort was cleared off the line.
Tottenham: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker (Sandro 86), Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Adebayor.
QPR: Kenny; Young, Hall (Gabbidon 10), Ferdinand, Traore; Derry (Mackie 45), Faurlin; Barton, Taarabt (Bothroyd 45), Wright-Phillips; Helguson.