By Sonny Turner
Just a few weeks ago Gareth Bale was supposed to be finished. A lack of game time, and behind Erik Lamela for a first team position, signalling the close to his illustrious career. Not anymore.
Bale, in his third consecutive Premier League start, continued his revival, bringing his tally to six goals in his last six appearances. And he was back to his best in doing so. Ethereal in his movement, effortless in wrong-footing defenders into allowing him to shift the ball onto his wonderful left foot, and impressive in spraying inch-perfect passes around the pitch, as he glided gracefully around the Tottenham turf. Spurs given the boost they need in order to challenge for the Champion’s League places, of which they are now just two points off.
Following a sustained period of pressure from Spurs, the Welshman opened the scoring, meeting a Harry Kane cross and tapping in from close range. The ball had been won high up the pitch by Lucas Moura who was characteristically busy in defending from the front all evening.
Just four minutes into the second half, Bale had his second. Sweeping the ball out left to his former Real Madrid teammate Sergio Reguilon, he drove into the box. Reguilon’s cross picked out Kane at the back post who provided his 13th league assist, heading across goal to Bale, who powered his own header into the top corner. This to cancel out the Crystal Palace equaliser which Christian Benteke had headed home just moments before half-time, and crucial in wrestling back momentum for the hosts.
Having demoralised the visitors by scoring so quickly after the restart, Spurs were able to cruise to victory. Kane adding a third just minutes after they had retaken the lead, with a goal of the season contender. Standing just outside the penalty area, the England captain gloriously swept the ball from the right into the side netting, leaving goalkeeper Vicente Guaita diving futilely.
Palace briefly threatened a comeback, substitute Wilfried Zaha, who was coming back from injury, rattling the post with a left footed effort, only for Spurs to punish the display of insolence, Kane grabbing his second, and Spurs’ fourth, heading in Heung-Min Son’s volleyed cross, in doing so making history, the duo having combined for 14 league goals this season, more than any other partnership in Premier League history.
With the rejuvenated Bale added to their already potent attacking force, Spurs look capable of finding a very happy ending to their season, edging closer to the top four, a League Cup final waiting, and the Europa League knockout rounds on the horizon; after a dismal run losing five of six league games, they’ve now won three in a row, their former star shining again.