Tottenham maintain momentum as Bale earns his Spurs all over again
Gareth Bale scored the first goal of his second coming to send Tottenham Hotspur up to second place in the early Premier League table.
Bale’s last Spurs goal had clinched victory over Sunderland in the final minute of the last game of the 2012/’13 season and seven years and 166 days later he was the match-winner once again.
Tottenham needed inspiration when head coach Jose Mourinho sent Bale on with 20 minutes remaining and the on-loan forward provided it with a header from Sergio Reguilon’s cross. Incredibly, it was his first Premier League goal as a substitute.
Bale and Reguilon arrived together from Real Madrid and they linked up to secure Tottenham’s first home league success of the season and send Mourinho’s team into second behind leaders Liverpool.
Spurs never really hit their stride, but the way Mourinho coached his team through six minutes of stoppage time demonstrated how important this result was to him.
Unsurprisingly, Dele Alli was once again dropped from the Tottenham squad, as Mourinho made nine changes from the team that suffered a shock Europa League defeat to Royal Antwerp.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and left-back Reguilon were the only players to survive from midweek, as Mourinho looked for a response from his players.
The Portuguese got one in the opening 15 minutes, during which Tottenham took the lead, but Mourinho will not have been happy with the rest of the first half.
Brighton looked in trouble, when, having already survived a scare after Erik Lamela had almost found Harry Kane, the hosts were awarded a penalty by VAR.
Referee Graham Scott had awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area after Adam Lallana had collided with Kane. But VAR decided a foul had taken place just inside the Brighton area, despite the fact it appeared Kane had backed into Lallana and sent the midfielder over him.
Kane stepped up to score his sixth goal of the season, having also chalked up eight assists, and at that point you would have bet on Spurs extending their lead before the break.
But Brighton responded brilliantly and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty of their own by VAR in the 23rd minute. Matt Doherty looked to have pulled Leandro Trossard back, but Tottenham got off the hook.
But the real moment of controversy came in the 56th minute, as Tariq Lamptey’s equaliser was allowed to stand. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was convinced he had been fouled by Solly March before he found Pascal Gross, who played the ball out to Lamptey to shoot into the bottom corner of the net.
As the players waited to find out if the goal would stand, Scott stared at the screen for what felt like an eternity and the slow-motion replays suggested March’s heel had touched the ball before his leg took down Hojbjerg. Scott eventually ruled the goal should stand, to the horror of Mourinho and Kane, who complained to the referee before Tottenham kicked off again.
Mourinho sent on Bale with 20 minutes left and the Welshman almost had an instant impact as he flicked on a corner, but Kane struck the back post from close range.
It only took three more minutes for Bale to make his mark, however, as Reguilon checked inside and sent over a cross that the forward nodded into the corner of the net. Bale is back.