Bale’s Late Strike Lifts Tottenham Up to Third in Premier League

Gareth Bale’s last-minute goal lifted Tottenham Hotspur to a 3-2 win at West Ham and up to third place in English soccer’s Premier League.

The Welsh winger opened the scoring last night at Upton Park in east London and smacked a 30-yard (27-meter) shot into the top corner with his left foot in the 90th minute. A first-half penalty kick from Andy Carroll and 58th-minute goal from Joe Cole had put West Ham 2-1 up before Gylfi Sigurdsson tied it with 14 minutes remaining.

Bale’s winning strike -- his 15th Premier League goal of the season -- flew past West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, who’d kept Spurs at bay with 11 saves, the most in an English top-flight game this campaign, according to Opta Sports.

“Gareth Bale is unbelievable,” Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas said in a televised interview. “You have seen him this season go to another level and make a difference every game. Players like this assume responsibility at key moments.”

Tottenham’s eighth league win on the road this season lifted it to 51 points through 27 of 38 games, two points above Chelsea, which lost at second-place Manchester City two days ago. Spurs host north London rival Arsenal, which has 47 points in fifth place, in five days.

Moore Tribute

A minute’s applause before kick off last night marked the 20th anniversary of the death of former England and West Ham captain Bobby Moore.

In the 13th minute, Bale put Spurs ahead with a left-foot strike from the edge of the penalty area, becoming the first player since Frederic Kanoute in 2003-04 to score five straight league goals for Tottenham, according to Opta.

Carroll’s 25th-minute spot kick tied it after Scott Parker had fouled the England striker in the area.

Jaaskelainen made a double save in the 57th minute, pushing Sigurdsson’s shot on to a post before saving Emmanuel Adebayor’s header on the rebound from point-blank range. A minute later, Cole beat the offside trap before turning and shooting past Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Sigurdsson made it 2-2 in the 76th minute when he forced the ball over the line at the far post following a goalmouth scramble from a free kick.

With the game about to enter stoppage time, Bale got the ball in a central area and worked it onto his favored left foot before arrowing a drive past Jaaskelainen’s outstretched right hand and into the top corner. It was his eighth goal in six games for his club.

“We played fantastic but we’ve really been beaten by Bale,” said West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, whose team is six points above the relegation zone in 14th place. “As soon as he hit it I went ‘Oh no.’ I knew it was going in.”

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