Bale heroics in vain for Spurs
Gareth Bale scored a stunning goal as Tottenham beat Sunderland
1-0 at White Hart Lane, but they missed out on a place in the top
four as Arsenal also won on the final day of the season.
Spurs needed to win to stand any chance of qualifying for the
UEFA Champions League but it looked like they would be frustrated
until Bale rounded off a wonderful individual campaign with another
special strike in the 90th minute.
However, Arsenal’s victory at Newcastle United ensured that
Tottenham would have to settle for a fifth-place finish despite a
record points haul in the Premier League.
The margin of Spurs’ victory could have been more convincing had
they been granted any of several penalty appeals, while Sunderland
also defended doggedly and Simon Mignolet pulled off a series of
The onus was on Tottenham to take the attack to a Sunderland
side whose Premier League survival had been guaranteed by Wigan
Athletic’s loss to Arsenal, and the first half was dominated by the
hosts at White Hart Lane without reward.
It looked like the breakthrough would come in the 21st minute
when Bale was sent tumbling in the area by a push from Sebastian
Larsson, but instead of giving a penalty referee Andre Marriner
felt that the Welshman had dived and issued a yellow card which
sparked a furious reaction from the player and the crowd.
Spurs had another appeal for a spot-kick waved away when Bale’s
shot from close range crashed into the arm of Jack Colback, while
Mignolet made decent saves from Emmanuel Adebayor, Tom Huddlestone
and a Bale free-kick.
Sunderland were disciplined in defence but only broke forward
sporadically, with Hugo Lloris showing quick reflexes at his near
post to repel a close-range flick from Connor Wickham.
Lloris again had to be alert to pull off a fine save down to his
left from Danny Graham at the start of the second half after lazy
play from Huddlestone in midfield had allowed Sunderland to pinch
Tottenham then had another shout for a penalty waved away by the
referee when Carlos Cuellar looked to handle Adebayor’s shot as he
slipped to the floor, and the feeling of frustration grew as news
filtered through of Arsenal’s lead against Newcastle.
Colback made two goal-line clearances to deny Scott Parker and
then Aaron Lennon in quick succession, and a number of chances came
and went as Mignolet continued to impress and Sunderland’s whole
team worked hard.
The Black Cats were reduced to ten men in the 75th minute,
however, when David Vaughan was shown a red card for a second
Spurs finally netted the goal they deserved when Bale cut back
inside 25 yards from goal and fizzed a spectacular, curling shot
past a despairing Mignolet and into the top corner.
The final few moments were spent with the fans desperately
wishing to hear that Newcastle had pegged back Arsenal, and when
that news never materialised it left the taste of victory very