Tottenham Hotspur returned to winning ways in style with a 4-0 victory over Wolfsberger in the Europa League last 32 first-leg, and Spurs’ very own Gareth Bale stole the show on their way to a vital win.
Jose Mourinho said his side had “one foot in the next round” after Bale and Son Heung-min combined to open the scoring, though they had to endure a few shaky moments after Michael Liendl’s penalty gave Wolsferberger hope before Christopher Wernitznig hit the bar.
Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius also netted for the Premier League giants, but Moussa Sissoko’s clumsy challenge inside the box diluted the joy a little before Wednesday’s second leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
However, it was a vintage performance from Bale, who cut inside from the right flank to fire home their second. It is a sign of what Spurs fans had been expecting to see from the Welshman after he returned to north London last year to high anticipation and much fanfare.
Matt Doherty picked out Bale and he cut back inside with his left boot before letting rip with a powerful shot into the far corner.
Writing in his post-match review, football.london correspondent Alasdair Gold graded the 31-year-old a 8/10 and noted he ‘set up Son’s early headed goal with a low cross and then netted himself with a powerful finishing after cutting inside superbly, sending the defender sliding a mile past him.’
The Wales international has looked a shadow of his former self since his return from Real Madrid amid reports of a public disagreement with Mourinho over his fitness.
However, Bale sent Mourinho a reminder of what he can offer after he registered a goal and an assist against Wolfsberger in the Europa League last night.
Bale was a constant threat on the right-hand side of the pitch as he caused Wolfsberger all sorts of problems, recording four key passes, which was the most out of any player on the pitch in Budapest, Hungary – in fact, he had a overall pass accuracy of 100%.
Usually, it’s Son’s task to be their chief creator, as the South Korean is averaging the most key passes (1.7) out of the entire Spurs squad in the Premier League this season, but it was Bale who stole the limelight last night.
This is also supported by the fact that Bale, who reportedly earns £600,000-a-week, took two shots on target, more than anyone else in a Spurs shirt aside from Dele Alli, which suggests that he posed a greater counter-attacking threat than the likes of Son and Moura.
Indeed, the £18m-rated star utterly terrorised the opposition’s defence, as he registered three successful dribbles from five attempts, which was second only to Moura, and also won 63% of his duels overall, winning seven out of his ten duels on the ground.
In the absence of Harry Kane, who was rested for the game against Wolfsberger, Bale sent Mourinho a huge message of his obvious class.