Gareth Bale struck late on to hand Tottenham victory over Sunderland, but it was not enough to secure them UEFA Champions League football.
The Welsh international was denied a
penalty in the first half and booked for simulation, however he had the last
laugh with a superb 90th-minute strike.
It was not good enough to guarantee the White Hart Lane club a place in
Europe's premier club competition, though, as Arsenal beat Newcastle 1-0 at St
However, it did earn Spurs their
highest-ever Premier League points total.
Andre Villas-Boas brought back Benoit
Assou-Ekotto at left-back for the crunch clash, with Steven Caulker reverting
to the bench.
Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio made two changes, David Vaughan in for Tottenham
loanee Danny Rose and Connor Wickham replacing Phil Bardsley.
Bardsley and Matthew Kilgallon were axed from the squad after pictures emerged
appearing to show them socialising at a casino last week.
Emmanuel Adebayor tested visiting goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the fifth minute
after escaping his marker inside the area.
Tottenham pressed hard for the next 15 minutes, however their final ball lacked
the cutting edge needed against a resolute Sunderland defence.
Adebayor nearly played in Bale before the Welshman looked to have been brought
down in the area by Sebastian Larsson in the 21st minute.
To the astonishment of the home fans and bench, though, referee Andre Marriner
did not award a penalty and subsequently cautioned Bale for diving.
The hosts nearly went a goal down on the half-hour mark when Danny Graham got
free on the right and fed Wickham.
The former Ipswich striker managed to evade his marker and turn the ball
goalwards, only for Hugo Lloris to palm away his effort superbly.
Bale's goalbound shot in the 36th minute ricocheted off Jack Colback's arm to
no avail, with James McClean booked for a nasty tackle on Tom Huddlestone a
Bale's resulting free-kick forced Mignolet into a smart save, with the Belgian
goalkeeper tipping away John O'Shea's wayward header from Bale soon after.
Tottenham started the second half strongly, Assou-Ekotto's cross agonisingly
missing two onrushing Spurs players.
Di Canio's visitors went close again in the 50th minute when Lloris palmed away
Graham's fierce left-footed shot.
The home side were denied another penalty when Marriner failed to spot a
handball from Carlos Cuellar with Huddlestone firing over a few minutes later.
With 63 minutes on the clock, Colback sliced the ball onto his own post from
Clint Dempsey's shot and it cannoned out to safety.
Mignolet then clawed away a Michael Dawson header and got down smartly to foil
Bale in the 72nd minute as Tottenham increased the pressure.
Billy Knott came on for his Sunderland debut on 74 minutes with Vaughan sent
off a few seconds later for a rash challenge on Aaron Lennon.
Mignolet got down well again to deny Bale in the 81st minute with Adam Mitchell
also coming on for Sunderland to make his first-team debut.
But it was Bale who proved the difference once again to cap an outstanding
season when he fired in a wonderful left-footed strike from distance past
Mignolet to cheer the home fans.
|11||G. Bale||21' 89'|
|Coach: André Villas-Boas|
for S. Parker 64'
for C. Dempsey 73'
for B. Assou-Ekotto 84'
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