Gareth Bale's stunning strike ensured Tottenham moved to within a point of third-placed Chelsea with a patient victory over 10-man West Brom.

A drab first period in which Bale went close and Shane Long missed two decent chances for the hosts sparked into life two minutes after the break when Goran Popov was sent off for spitting.

Spurs took full advantage of the extra man and began to dominate possession.

Away-day Bale

Gareth Bale has now scored nine Premier League goals away from home this season. Only Robin van Persie (10) has more.

Bale put them ahead with a 20-yard shot and they held on to win with ease.

The Baggies barely threatened in the closing stages and the blame lay at the feet of Popov for his bizarre reaction to a mundane challenge from Kyle Walker.

Until Popov's red card for spitting at the England defender West Brom had created the better chances, but their hopes of avoiding a fifth defeat in their last six games all but ended with his departure.

West Brom, without wantaway striker Peter Odemwingie, had two good early chances and the imposing figure of Romelu Lukaku was at the heart of both. First the on-loan Chelsea striker easily won a high ball to send strike partner Shane Long through on goal only for the Republic of Ireland international to hopelessly over-run the pass.

Villas-Boas on "easier" win

Lukaku, whose combination of brute strength and speed seemed to unnerve the visitors' defence, then got a decent shot on target from the left.

But their best opening saw Long's low strike well blocked by the on-rushing Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal after an exquisite outside-of-the-foot pass from Graham Dorrans.

Unsurprisingly, Spurs' main threat in a flat first half came from the pace and direct running of Bale and Aaron Lennon.

A fine burst from Lennon on the left teed up a great opportunity for Clint Dempsey at the far post but the striker headed wide from six yards.

But it was Bale, operating centrally, who looked the most likely source of an away goal. Twice the Welshman glided down the right and delivered dangerous balls into the box and he was closest to opening the scoring when his delightful 20-yard left-foot curler forced a fine fingertip save from Ben Foster deep into first half-injury time.

Analysis

West Brom are beaten again - their fifth defeat in six games - but they made it very tough for themselves. They had the better chances before the break but Spurs got on top when Goran Popov was sent off for spitting. It was deeply unpleasant and cost his side the game.

However Tottenham's lack of a Lukaku-type focal point and their inability to get numbers into the box meant the Baggies looked relatively comfortable.

The away side's menace diminished further when Jermain Defoe limped off before the break with what appeared to be a badly twisted left ankle. That was a huge blow to manager Andre Villas-Boas, already deprived of the services of Emmanuel Adebayor who is on on Africa Cup of Nations duty.

Defoe's replacement Lewis Holtby looked busy and tidy but, having failed to sign a striker in the transfer window, the last thing Villas-Boas needed was an injury up front.

The game turned in Tottenham's favour, however, a minute after the break when Popov's moment of madness.

Referee Mark Clattenburg immediately waved the red card at the defender and Spurs coasted to victory against their demoralised hosts.

Popov spitting 'let everybody down'

Lukaku was taken off as the Baggies reorganised and Spurs took full advantage of the extra man and began to completely dominate possession.

Holtby's fizzing near-post shot forced Foster into action and Bale nearly got in on goal but was thwarted by a clattering but fair Foster challenge.

But they were rewarded for their patience on 66 minutes.

Spurs retained possession on the right and the ball was worked to Bale who skipped away from James Morrison and unleashed a fine 18-yard strike that beat Foster for pace and stretched his side's unbeaten Premier League run to nine games.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

West Brom

  • 01 Foster
  • 02 Reid
  • 03 Olsson
  • 04 Popov Dismissed
  • 23 McAuley
  • 05 Yacob (Fortune - 82' )
  • 07 Morrison
  • 11 Brunt
  • 17 Dorrans Booked (Rosenberg - 81' )
  • 09 Long
  • 20 Lukaku (Ridgewell - 52' )

Substitutes

  • 13 Myhill
  • 06 Ridgewell
  • 28 Jones
  • 30 Tamas
  • 14 Thomas
  • 08 Rosenberg
  • 32 Fortune

Tottenham

  • 25 Lloris
  • 05 Vertonghen
  • 20 Dawson
  • 28 Walker (Gallas - 78' )
  • 32 Assou-Ekotto
  • 02 Dempsey
  • 07 Lennon (Sigurdsson - 86' )
  • 08 Parker
  • 11 Bale
  • 18 Defoe (Holtby - 39' )
  • 19 Dembele

Substitutes

  • 24 Friedel
  • 13 Gallas
  • 16 Naughton
  • 06 Huddlestone
  • 22 Sigurdsson
  • 23 Holtby
  • 29 Livermore
Ref: Clattenburg
Att: 24,978

Match Stats

Shots

4 21

On target

3 13

Corners

2 17

Fouls

9 9

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +4:50 Full time

Full Time The referee blows his whistle to end the game.

90:00 +4:06

Gareth Bale takes a shot from 18 yards. Blocked by Jonas Olsson. Short corner taken by Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

90:00 +3:17

Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Dawson on Marc-Antoine Fortune. Chris Brunt delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel, save by Hugo Lloris.

90:00 +0:19

The ball is delivered by Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

88:34

Gylfi Sigurdsson decides to take the corner short.

87:25

Unfair challenge on Michael Dawson by Jonas Olsson results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Hugo Lloris.

86:53

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonas Olsson by Lewis Holtby. Ben Foster takes the direct free kick.

85:56

Gylfi Sigurdsson takes a outswinging corner to the near post, Close range headed effort by Gareth Bale clears the crossbar.

85:25 Substitution

Substitution (Tottenham) makes a substitution, with Gylfi Sigurdsson coming on for Aaron Lennon.

84:45

Aaron Lennon has an effort at goal from 18 yards. Blocked by Chris Brunt.

81:45

Mousa Dembele gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Marc-Antoine Fortune. Chris Brunt crosses the ball in from the free kick, Clint Dempsey makes a clearance.

80:35 Substitution

Substitution Marc-Antoine Fortune joins the action as a substitute, replacing Claudio Yacob.

80:35 Substitution

Substitution (West Brom) makes a substitution, with Markus Rosenberg coming on for Graham Dorrans.

80:35

Gareth Bale produces a cross.

79:46

Shane Long takes a shot. Save made by Hugo Lloris.

79:33

Clint Dempsey gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steven Reid. Graham Dorrans restarts play with the free kick.

77:18

Corner taken by Lewis Holtby from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Shane Long.

77:18 Substitution

Substitution William Gallas comes on in place of Kyle Walker.

77:18

Effort from 18 yards by Clint Dempsey. Save by Ben Foster.

75:10

Benoit Assou-Ekotto produces a cross. The ball is delivered by Aaron Lennon. Gareth Bale crosses the ball, clearance by Jonas Olsson.

69:46

Shot from 18 yards from Gareth Bale. Gareth McAuley gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken by Lewis Holtby from the left by-line, clearance made by Liam Ridgewell.

68:43

Michael Dawson takes the direct free kick.

68:43 Booking

Booking Graham Dorrans is booked.

68:39

Foul by Graham Dorrans on Scott Parker, free kick awarded.

66:56

The assist for the goal came from Kyle Walker.

66:56 Goal scored

Goal! - Gareth Bale - West Brom 0 - 1 Tottenham Gareth Bale fires in a fantastic goal from just outside the area to the top left corner of the goal. West Brom 0-1 Tottenham.

65:52

The official flags Liam Ridgewell offside. Indirect free kick taken by Scott Parker.

63:26

Clint Dempsey has an effort at goal. Ben Foster makes a comfortable save.

62:38

Jan Vertonghen takes a shot. Blocked by Gareth McAuley. Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Lewis Holtby, clearance by Jonas Olsson.

62:10

Benoit Assou-Ekotto sends in a cross.

59:47

Gareth Bale takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.

57:49

Gareth Bale sends in a cross, clearance made by Ben Foster. Lewis Holtby takes a outswinging corner to the near post, Steven Reid makes a clearance. Kyle Walker produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the target.

57:34

Kyle Walker sends in a cross, clearance made by Jonas Olsson.

56:39

The ball is crossed by Kyle Walker.

56:23

The ball is sent over by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Jonas Olsson manages to make a clearance.

55:10

Benoit Assou-Ekotto produces a left-footed effort from long distance that goes harmlessly over the bar.

54:40

Gareth Bale takes a shot. Blocked by Claudio Yacob. Corner taken by Lewis Holtby from the left by-line to the near post, Steven Reid makes a clearance.

53:21

Shot from 18 yards from Lewis Holtby. Save by Ben Foster.

51:42

The assistant referee signals for offside against Shane Long. Free kick taken by Jan Vertonghen.

51:42 Substitution

Substitution Liam Ridgewell is brought on as a substitute for Romelu Lukaku.

50:23

Shot by Gareth Bale. James Morrison gets a block in. Corner taken by Lewis Holtby from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Steven Reid. Lewis Holtby takes a outswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Shane Long. Mousa Dembele crosses the ball, Clint Dempsey has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.

47:01 Dismissal

Dismissal The referee shows Goran Popov a red card.

46:07

The referee blows for offside against Romelu Lukaku. Michael Dawson restarts play with the free kick.

45:11

Mousa Dembele fouled by James Morrison, the ref awards a free kick. Michael Dawson restarts play with the free kick.

45:01

The referee gets the second half started.

45:00 +3:53 Half time

Half Time The referee blows for half time.

45:00 +3:01

Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Gareth Bale, Gareth McAuley fouled by Clint Dempsey, the ref awards a free kick.

45:00 +2:19

Shot by Gareth Bale from 25 yards. Save by Ben Foster. Corner from the left by-line taken by Kyle Walker, clearance by Gareth McAuley.

45:00 +0:14

The referee blows for offside against Romelu Lukaku. Jan Vertonghen takes the free kick.

43:07

Foul by Mousa Dembele on Chris Brunt, free kick awarded. Jonas Olsson restarts play with the free kick.

42:22

Romelu Lukaku produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the goal.

41:55

A cross is delivered by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, clearance made by Chris Brunt.

40:55

Shane Long is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Jan Vertonghen takes the free kick.

38:31

Direct free kick taken by Jan Vertonghen.

38:31 Substitution

Substitution Lewis Holtby on for Jermain Defoe.

38:31

Foul by Claudio Yacob on Scott Parker, free kick awarded.

33:58

Chris Brunt gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aaron Lennon. Kyle Walker takes the direct free kick.

31:46

Claudio Yacob gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jermain Defoe. Shot comes in from Gareth Bale from the free kick.

31:04

Free kick awarded for a foul by Claudio Yacob on Jan Vertonghen. Mousa Dembele restarts play with the free kick.

30:11

The referee blows for offside against Shane Long. Free kick taken by Michael Dawson.

28:11

Clint Dempsey takes a shot from 25 yards. Claudio Yacob gets a block in. The ball is crossed by Kyle Walker, Goran Popov gets a block in. Corner from right by-line taken by Kyle Walker.

26:12

Clint Dempsey has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.

25:13

Gareth Bale produces a cross.

24:53

The ball is swung over by James Morrison, clearance by Clint Dempsey.

24:19

Inswinging corner taken by Chris Brunt from the right by-line, save by Hugo Lloris.

21:53

The assistant referee flags for offside against Jermain Defoe. Free kick taken by Steven Reid.

20:15

Shot by Shane Long. Hugo Lloris makes a save.

19:13

Mousa Dembele has an effort at goal from long range that goes wide left.

16:47

Centre by Aaron Lennon, Goran Popov gets a block in. Kyle Walker takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, Romelu Lukaku manages to make a clearance.

15:27

Foul by Mousa Dembele on Claudio Yacob, free kick awarded. Steven Reid takes the free kick.

14:52

Outswinging corner taken by Kyle Walker from the right by-line, Jonas Olsson makes a clearance.

14:18

Gareth Bale delivers the ball, Gareth McAuley manages to make a clearance. Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Kyle Walker, Ben Foster makes a save.

13:55

Benoit Assou-Ekotto crosses the ball, clearance made by Jonas Olsson.

13:04

Shane Long gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Scott Parker. Scott Parker takes the free kick.

12:49

The offside flag is raised against Clint Dempsey. Indirect free kick taken by Ben Foster.

10:25

Romelu Lukaku gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kyle Walker. Direct free kick taken by Hugo Lloris.

7:20

The ball is crossed by Aaron Lennon, Close range header by Clint Dempsey goes wide of the left-hand upright.

6:40

Romelu Lukaku takes a shot. Save by Hugo Lloris.

5:49

The ball is crossed by Graham Dorrans, Benoit Assou-Ekotto gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Chris Brunt, save made by Hugo Lloris.

4:18

A cross is delivered by Gareth Bale, blocked by Steven Reid. Inswinging corner taken by Kyle Walker, Gareth McAuley fouled by Clint Dempsey, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Ben Foster.

1:43

James Morrison fouled by Michael Dawson, the ref awards a free kick. Claudio Yacob takes the free kick.

0:23

The assistant referee signals for offside against Chris Brunt. Free kick taken by Kyle Walker.

0:00

The match begins.

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