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Bale’s Double Helps Spurs Cut Gap to Manchester Clubs Atop Premier League

Gareth Bale scored twice as Tottenham won 2-0 at Norwich to move to within seven points of the two Manchester clubs atop English soccer’s Premier League.

Bale put Spurs ahead in the 55th minute at Carrow Road last night before clipping his second goal into the net 12 minutes later. The earlier games between Arsenal and Wolverhampton, and Swansea and Queens Park Rangers, finished 1-1.

Tottenham’s 12th win in its past 15 Premier League matches lifted it to 38 points, having played one game fewer than Manchester City and Manchester United. City leads United on goal difference with both teams on 45 points.

“Man United and Man City look so strong, but we are up there and need to keep picking up points,” Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said in an interview with Sky Sports. “When you are up there, you cannot afford not to.”

Spurs, United and Newcastle were the only winners among the 20 Premier League teams in the post-Christmas program as seven of the 10 matches ended in draws.

Bale opened the scoring 10 minutes after halftime when he drove the ball under Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy. The Welsh winger doubled the lead when he sprinted 45 yards before lifting the ball over the on-rushing Ruddy and into the net.

“You have to keep grinding out chances and hope one will come for you and it did,” Bale told Sky Sports. “It was a great few days for us, we’ve took advantage of other teams dropping points.”

Gunners Misfire

Arsenal missed a chance to move into the top four with its 1-1 draw against Wolves at the Emirates Stadium in London. The Gunners have 33 points from 18 games and are a point behind fourth-place Chelsea, which drew 1-1 with Fulham two days ago.

Gervinho put Arsenal ahead after eight minutes and Steven Fletcher tied it before halftime. Wolves repelled Arsenal for the last 21 minutes after Nenad Milijas was red-carded.

“We missed a great opportunity, but we have to just keep going,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said in comments on his club’s website. “It was the kind of game that if you play it 20 times, you win 19 and you draw one.”

Gervinho collected a pass by Yossi Benayoun and evaded Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to give Arsenal the lead. Fletcher made it 1-1 after 38 minutes with a header when Arsenal failed to clear a corner kick.

Hennessey denied Arsenal the lead by tipping Robin van Persie’s free kick over the crossbar after 66 minutes, and blocked Per Mertesacker’s downward header.

The Wolves goalkeeper stopped van Persie again with eight minutes left, parrying a free kick and then saving the Dutchman’s volley with his legs as the Gunners increased their share of possession to 70 percent.

Hugs for Hennessey

Milijas was ejected after 75 minutes for lunging to take the ball from Mikel Arteta and Wolves had to hold out for an additional six minutes of stoppage time. At the end, players crowded around Hennessey to congratulate him as Wolves moved two points above the relegation zone.

“I keep saying he is one of the very best in the league,” Wolves manager Mick McCarthy said of Hennessey. “He proved that today, he was outstanding. He gets a bit to do at times playing for us, but we know we can rely on him and trust him.”

Jamie Mackie’s 58th-minute goal at Liberty Stadium in Wales earned QPR the draw, and its first point in four Premier League games, after Swansea’s Danny Graham had put the home team ahead in the 14th minute.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net; Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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