Premier League: Tottenham 2 Newcastle 1
Gareth Bale inspired Tottenham with two brilliant goals in a nerve-wracking 2-1 victory over Newcastle at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
The Welshman continued his stunning recent form to take his tally for the season to 13 Premier League goals with two deadly strikes to take Spurs to third in the table for at least a few hours ahead of Chelsea's clash with Wigan later on Saturday.
Bale put the hosts ahead in the fifth minute with a free-kick from 25 yards before the visitors equalised through Youan Gouffran's deflected strike in the 24th minute.
Just as Spurs appeared to be running out of ideas, Bale came to the rescue with a fine solo effort in the 78th minute to extend the Londoners' fine form to 10 league games unbeaten.
The Tottenham players warmed up wearing 'get well soon Joe' t-shirts in support of coach Tony Parks' son, who was involved in a serious car accident this week.
Bale wasted little time in putting the home side ahead, opening the scoring in the fifth minute.
First, Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini conceded a free-kick for a clumsy challenge on Clint Dempsey 25 yards from goal.
Bale has been in sparkling form in recent weeks and he punished the visitors as he whipped the set-piece over the wall Cristiano Ronaldo-style into the bottom corner of Tim Krul’s goal.
While Spurs continued to threaten through Bale and Lewis Holtby, Newcastle increasingly grew into the game and - after Papiss Cisse missed the target with a free header from eight yards - Alan Pardew's side were rewarded for their attacking ambition in the 24th minute.
It was a goal made and converted by two January signings. Moussa Sissoko burst past Kyle Naughton down the right side and had the awareness to pick out Gouffran on the edge of the Tottenham box.
The winger took a touch before shooting powerfully at goal, the ball deflecting heavily off Michael Dawson's back to leave Hugo Lloris with no chance in the Spurs goal.
The second-half started in pedestrian fashion and the flat atmosphere was not helped by a seemingly serious injury suffered by Gouffran in an innocuous challenge with Kyle Walker.
The Frenchman was treated on the pitch for several minutes after an accidental kick to the leg and required oxygen as he was carried off on a stretcher.
Spurs brought on Emmanuel Adebayor for the final quarter of the game as Bale shifted into a more central role.
It was a switch that worked as, out of nothing, the Welshman scored his second goal of the game in the 78th minute.
As the ball bounced between Coloccini and Steven Taylor just inside their own half, the Newcastle centre-backs hesitated and Bale only needed a split second to burst through on goal before slotting the ball through Krul's legs.
Bale nearly completed a stunning hat-trick three minutes from time but Krul kept out his fierce drive with a superb fingertip save.
Yohan Cabaye was then lucky to escape a red card late on for a nasty late challenge on Mousa Dembele while Lloris made a wonderful late save at substitute Shola Ameobi's feet as Spurs held on for another Bale-inspired victory.