A GARETH Bale double was enough to see off a spirited Queens Park Rangers at White Hart Lane this evening.
Rangers provided a somewhat lacklustre showing in the opening period, allowing for Bale to slam home and Rafael van der Vaart to net his fifth in five matches.
Following the break it was the visiting side that came to the fore with substitute Jay Bothroyd nodding home a well deserved goal to halve the deficit.
Bale had the final say however, oozing class to play a neat succession of passes with Luka Modrić before powering home his brace.
Tottenham’s irresistible first half football was the difference as Rangers were often the architects of their own downfall – just the minor worry of Manchester City moving over the horizon next week.
Neil Warnock made one change from the side that picked up the priceless win against Chelsea – Armand Traoré the preferred option at left-back ahead of Clint Hill.
Paddy Kenny started behind a back four of Luke Young, Fitz Hall, Anton Ferdinand and the aforementioned Traoré.
Shaun Derry and Alejandro Faurlín featured in the middle with Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joey Barton and Adel Taarabt playing a touch in advance.
Heidar Helguson was the preferred lone front-man with Danny Gabbidon once again taking his place on the bench.
Spurs lined up with Brad Friedel with a back four of Kyle Walker, Younes Kaboul, Ledley King and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Aaron Lennon, Luka Modrić, Scott Parker and Gareth Bale stared across midfield with Rafael van der Vaart starting in behind Emmanuel Adebayor.
KICK OFF: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR v QPR
From a personal perspective there was an air of trepidation as Rangers travelled to White Hart Lane. Tottenham are a side famed for their fast-paced, passing football – in stark contrast to Chelsea, and an even greater degree of concentration would be required.
There could be no mistaking the fact that confidence was at an all-time high among the QPR players given their recent result against Chelsea, but confidence and complacency are closely linked at times and the importance of keeping the right side was paramount.
It would be fair to say that Spurs started the brighter of the two sides and the pre-match trepidation was well-founded. The slick passing play of the hosts scythed an early hole in the Rangers rearguard and nearly carved out the opening goal.
Three minutes in and Luka Modrić worked some wizardry on the edge of the area with Rafael van der Vaart positioned perfectly in front of goal. Paddy Kenny pulled off a masterful stop at point-blank range to keep matters level in the early offing.
Rangers seemed somewhat shell-shocked with Spurs able to pick passes at will and maintain their high tempo. A free-kick on the edge of the area was somewhat surprisingly gifted to Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who clipped over the bar when well-placed.
QPR were forced into a change on the ten minute mark when Fitz Hall was left in a heap on the floor and it was a welcome return for Danny Gabbidon who came back from a knee injury to take his place in the squad.
Possession lied with the hosts as they continued to forge meaningful opportunities. A van der Vaart free-kick from the left found Emmanuel Adebayor who rose above marker Luke Young, only to glance wide of the right-hand upright.
The pressure was relentless and a Bale cross from the left narrowly evaded the Manchester City loanee as the visiting side could offer very little in terms of pressure and ball retention – it was genuine one-way football.
The man with the point to prove was scarcely involved in the fixture as Adel Taarabt persistently gifted possession of the ball to Spurs with limited contributions in the attacking line contributing to Rangers’ downfall.
All Rangers could offer in riposte was a deflected Helguson effort that flew wide of the left-hand upright. Eventually however the tide swept QPR aside and Spurs had the deserved opening goal.
Adebayor’s knock-down found its way to the lively Lennon who managed to clip the ball into the unmarked Gareth Bale – the wide-man showed excellent composure to rifle home the opener across Paddy Kenny.
GOAL: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1-0 QPR
It was the very least that Spurs had deserved for their spirited early showing and they were relentless in their level of pressure. van der Vaart’s speculative right-footed drive was comfortably saved low down by Kenny.
A genuine opportunity for a second went awry when positive work by Assou-Ekotto fell for Bale, only for the Welshman to fire over when well-placed. The going was tough indeed for the visiting side, who appeared overawed in many respects.
Then came what was another nail in the coffin of a poor first period. Ledley King’s shot was heading wide by a distance before a deflection took the ball into the path of Rafael van der Vaart.
The Dutch international swept the ball home at the first attempt despite the fleeting appeals for offside. It was once again deserved for the endeavour and efficacy displayed by the hosts – with Rangers truly not able to get into their stride.
GOAL: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2-0 QPR
Luka Modrić and Scott Parker were proving an industrious central midfield pairing and the former showed stunning poise to tee himself up on the edge of the area before firing a dipping volley inches wide of the right hand post.
Modrić then saw a guilt-edge opportunity go awry in the closing stages in an opening period that belonged to Spurs – who were dominance personified, and something that would need to be addressed by the weary visiting side.
HALF TIME: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2-0 QPR
Warnock responded with a double change as Taarabt and Derry were taken off with Jay Bothroyd and Jamie Mackie were introduced in a new look 4-4-2 formation – not something typically deployed by the R’s boss.
It prompted a move for Barton into the heart of midfield and Mackie on the right side of midfield – Bothroyd partnered the somewhat isolated Heidar Helguson in attack as they attacked the vocal visiting support.
Rangers were looking far more positive in attacking areas and ultimately more comfortable in possession. Nevertheless the Tottenham threat was unrelenting and van der Vaart exemplified that threat.
The midfielder latched on to a loose touch from Wright-Phillips before rifling a left-footed effort with the outside of his foot, drawing an excellent save from the over-worked Kenny.
Bothroyd was looking at his sharpest in a QPR shirt and fired a left-footed effort high, wide and handsome – not necessarily the desired end product but it was taken with the confidence that belies his previous endeavours.
Adebayor was then thwarted by the hard-working Gabbidon when his surging run was halted in the penalty area by an excellently timed challenge from the Welsh international.
Rangers were playing with a greater air of confidence and the new-found enterprise of Wright-Phillips down the left flank was providing a distinct positive in the early offing.
He managed to jink his way beyond the ex-QPR loanee Walker, before laying aside for Helguson. The Icelandic international took his effort first time, but saw it deflected over the upright and away for a corner.
The momentum now lie with the visiting side and just after the hour mark they had their reward for putting pressure on a Spurs side that had truly taken a step back from their previous attacking exploits.
A Joey Barton corner was nodded back expertly across the target by the aforementioned Helguson, for Jay Bothroyd to nod home his first in Rangers colours – and indeed the club`s first headed effort this campaign.
GOAL: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2-1 QPR
One would have expected a reaction from Spurs, and it came in spades as Kenny recovered from an error to produce an excellent save. A van der Vaart free-kick was dropped by the ‘stopper only to pull out a top drawer save to deny Bale.
Tottenham were finding themselves on the back burner by and large for the second period and Faurlín nearly brought the house down in the away end when his excellent drive was the culmination of an excellent free-flowing move – Friedel denied his effort.
Assou-Ekotto then produced an excellent effort to bring more of the best out of Kenny, when a left-footed drive saw the ‘keeper dive high to his left and tip the effort away.
Rangers were ploughing forward in search for an equalising goal and inevitably they were caught out with a fine Spurs goal – carved from the boots of Modric one more.
Lennon found some space and linked up with Gareth Bale – in turn he played a neat exchange with Modric, who delivered back to the Welshman with pace and precision – Bale then slammed his subsequent effort beyond Kenny – a curling, venomous drive.
GOAL: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3-1 QPR
Rangers continued with their positive play and nearly forced their way back in once more, courtesy of an unlikely source. Luke Young saw a header cleared from the line by the Spurs backline.
Minutues later the former Spurs full-back darted beyond his marker to strike the ball across goal. Kaboul cleared from the line and but for a loose touch from Mackie they could have slammed home the resultant opportunity.
Nevertheless the result was probably deserved on the first half showing alone, but Rangers supporters will leave proud that they put a Champions League side on the back foot for vast parts of the second period.
FINAL WHISTLE: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3-1 QPR
Brad Friedel, Gareth Bale, Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon, Scott Parker (Sandro 86), Emmanuel Adebayor, Rafael van der Vaart, Luka Modric, Ledley King, Kyle Walker, Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Paddy Kenny, Shaun Derry (Jamie Mackie 46), Fitz Hall (Danny Gabbidon 10), Adel Taarabt (Jay Bothroyd 46), Alejandro Faurlin, Armand Traore, Joey Barton, Luke Young, Heidar Helguson, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anton Ferdinand.