Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale celebrates one of his three goals against Aston Villa during their Premier League clash at Villa Park on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
Man of the match Gareth Bale claimed his first Premier League hattrick as Tottenham Hotspur won 4-0 at Aston Villa on Wednesday to climb to fourth place in the Premier League.
Villa were better than in their 8-0 humiliation at Chelsea on Sunday, but their obduracy only lasted until mid-way through the second half, when Jermain Defoe and Bale sprang to life to give Spurs a comfortable win.
Spurs dominated the first half at Villa Park, dispatching 11 attempts at goal and hitting the target on six occasions, but they could not find a way past Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
The American produced a finger-tip save to prevent Bale from putting Tottenham ahead with a rising drive from 25 yards in the 11th minute, before gathering William Gallas' header from a corner.
When Spurs did manage to remove Guzan from the equation, his defenders stepped up, as when Ciaran Clark slid in to produce a superb block that denied the advancing Defoe after 25 minutes.
An Emmanuel Adebayor header drew another regulation save from Guzan, although he was made to feel rather more uncomfortable by a wickedly swerving Bale effort five minutes prior to half-time.
Villa improved after the interval but their resistance finally gave way in the 57th minute.
Bale rolled the ball back to Kyle Naughton and the full-back produced a beautifully measured through-ball to find Defoe, who raced through before poking the ball beneath Guzan with his right foot.
Four minutes later it was 2-0, and yet Spurs' second goal stemmed from a Villa attack.
Christian Benteke tore down the Villa right but he could not pick out a team-mate with his pull-back and the visitors broke.
Bale did brilliantly to keep the move alive after Joe Bennett slid in to thwart Defoe, nipping in front of his man and then masterfully rounding Guzan before steering the ball home with the outside of his left foot.