Gareth Bale strike moves Tottenham Hotspur to third place

Gareth Bale scored a sensational last-minute
winner as Tottenham beat rivals West Ham 3-2 to move up to third in the Premier League in a thrilling encounter at Upton Park. The Welshman took his tally
for the season to 15 league
goals as he slammed a 35-
yard rocket into the top
corner past West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, who was fantastic
throughout the night. Bale had himself put Spurs ahead in the 13th
minute from the edge of the penalty area before
Andy Carroll equalised with a penalty 12 minutes
later. West Ham took the lead in the second half when
Joe Cole tucked the ball in to the far corner from a
tight angle, but Gylfi Sigurdsson equalised from
close range 14 minutes from time. The game seemed to be heading for a draw before
Bale struck at the death to move Spurs up to third
place in the race for the Champions League, two
points ahead of Chelsea and four points above
north London rivals Arsenal. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce made four
changes to the side that lost against Aston Villa,
with James Collins returning in central defence and
recalls for Guy Demel, Gary O’Neil and Matt Jarvis
with Mark Noble ruled out through injury. Hugo Lloris was restored as Tottenham’s goalkeeper
in place of Brad Friedel as Andre Villas-Boas went
for height in defence, playing Jan Vertonghen at
left-back with Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker
paired in central defence. Before kick-off, West Ham honoured Bobby Moore
on the 20th anniversary of his death, the World Cup-
winning captain’s name rang around Upton Park
during a minute’s applause with the former
defender’s family on the touchline. It led to a blood-and-thunder opening to the game
as tackles flew in and the rival fans goaded each
other on a crisp, floodnight evening in east London. Allardyce identified Bale as the man to stop before
the game, so he must have been furious with the
ease in which the Welshman put Spurs ahead in the
13th minute. Demel’s lazy pass gave possession straight to Bale 25 yards from goal and the Tottenham man worked
the ball on to his left foot before firing low across
goal into the bottom corner. Yet West Ham responded and drew level in the 25th
minute as Carroll scored just his third goal of the season. The on-loan Liverpool striker won the spot-kick
himself as he went down under a challenge from
former Hammer Scott Parker, whose challenge was
reckless despite him getting a touch on the ball.
Carroll made no mistake as he rammed the ball into
the top corner from 12 yards.West Ham had goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to
thank for keeping them in the game as he made
two athletic saves either side of the break to keep
out almost identical headers from Caulker. The Finn then made a brilliant double save in the
56th minute, tipping substitute Sigurdsson’s curling
shot on to the post and reacting quickly to save
Emmanuel Adebayor’s header when the Spurs
striker should have scored the rebound. Two minutes later, the hosts took the lead. Joey
O’Brien played a long pass to Cole, who stayed onside before bringing the ball down and somehow
turning it into the far corner from a tight angle. Jaaskelainen then produced more heroics with his
best save of the night, touching Bale’s curling effort
on to the crossbar at full stretch. Not to be upstaged, Lloris made a superb stop of
his own to deny Taylor after the West Ham
substitute was put through on goal by Cole’s clever
pass. Fourteen minutes from time, Tottenham levelled
with the scrappiest of goals. West Ham completely
failed to deal with a free-kick delivered from the
right by Bale and after the ball pinballed around the
penalty area Sigurdsson was able to scuff home from two yards. Then as the clock ticked to 90 minutes, Bale demanded the ball in central midfielder, shifted it
on to his left foot and rammed a shot into the top
corner so powerful that even Jaaskelainen could do
nothing.

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