By JUSTIN FERGUSON
For the majority of Saturday’s match between Tottenham and Southampton, it looked like Gareth Bale was going to have a mediocre ending to an award-winning week.
The 23-year-old recently captured the PFA Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, and FWA Footballer of the Year for his impressive season, but he had one of his most uninspired performances against his former club.
Tottenham were on the verge of a disappointing scoreless draw with the visiting Saints when Bale found space 25 yards out. The Welsh winger struck a powerful shot, Tottenham’s only one on goal in the entire match, just out of Artur Boruc’s reach.
Bale’s 20th goal of the Premier League season was enough for Spurs to grab a much-needed 1-0 win over 14th-place Southampton in their hunt for Champions League qualification. Southampton were unlucky to get a point out of Saturday’s trip to White Hart Lane—the Saints controlled most of the match and forced Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to make a few big saves.
The Spurs victory puts added pressure on Chelsea, who face Manchester United on Sunday and Tottenham on Wednesday.
Here are the rest of the results from Saturday’s Premier League action:
ASTON VILLA, WIGAN GET LATE WINS IN THE RELEGATION BATTLE
Aston Villa continued their impressive late season push to avoid relegation thanks to some second half heroics from Gabriel Agbonlahor. The English winger netted two goals, including an 89th-minute winner, to give Villa a 2-1 win at Norwich City.
Norwich captain Grant Holt’s 74th-minute penalty conversion canceled out Agbonlahor’s long-range opener, but former Norwich manager Paul Lambert’s new side had the last laugh on Saturday when Agbonlahor guided a pass from Ashley Westwood into the corner of the net.
Holt came close to a shock equalizer in stoppage time. Substitute Kei Kamara’s cross found the captain, but the glancing header was just wide of Brad Guzan’s goal. The loss brings Norwich closer to the dreaded relegation line with two matches against top half sides left in the season.
The win did not get Villa any farther away from the relegation zone as 18th-place Wigan pulled off a second half rally to defeat West Bromwich Albion 3-2. The Latics came from behind twice on Saturday to stay level with their hosts, and Callum McManaman netted a winner 10 minutes from time to keep hopes of another great escape alive.
McManaman, who scored last weekend in a dramatic 2-2 draw with Tottenham, scored from close range after a great effort from veteran winger Shaun Maloney. Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles sealed the victory with a great save on a powerful Graham Dorrans shot just before stoppage time began.
The win moves Wigan two points back from safe Sunderland, who host Stoke City on Monday. The Latics have three league matches and a FA Cup final left in their campaign, which has the chance of being another trademark survival from manager Roberto Martinez.
PREMIER LEAGUE SCOREBOARD
Theo Walcott scored 20 seconds into Arsenal’s trip to face relegated Queens Park Rangers, and that goal would be all that they needed for a tight 1-0 victory. The Gunners now have a two-point lead over Chelsea and Tottenham, who have played fewer matches in the race for Champions League qualification.
Referee Mike Jones was the center of controversy at Liberty Stadium on Saturday as he denied penalties to both Swansea City and Manchester City. The two sides played out a scoreless draw.
West Ham United and Newcastle United also finished 0-0 on Saturday. Both sides had clear chances to break the deadlock, but goalkeepers Jussi Jaaskelainen and Robert Elliot held strong for their respective clean sheets.
Nigel Adkins got his first win as manager of relegation locks Reading as the Saints defeated Fulham 4-2 at Craven Cottage. Four goals were scored in the span of 15 minutes in a wild finish between two sides that have struggled in recent weeks.
What do you make of these results? Thoughts the latest episode of Gareth Bale heroics for Tottenham? Think Villa and Wigan stay up? Surprised at Arsenal’s performance against QPR?
Share your comments below.