Brilliant Bale lifts Spurs to fourth as Villa’s slide continues

There were two statistics that summed up this game. For Aston Villa, they equalled a Premier League low of conceding 12 goals in two games to slip to 16th in the Premier League — with the worst goal difference to boot.

For Tottenham, the picture is much more rosy as Gareth Bale netted his first hat-trick in the top flight to propel his side into the top four.

Villa’s young side had defended stoutly in the first half but capitulated after the break, conceding four times in 27 minutes.

It was not quite the eight they shipped during Sunday’s humiliation at Chelsea but it is a trying and testing time for Paul Lambert at the moment.

To complete another bad day at the office, the big screen televisions at either end of the ground broke down momentarily at Villa Park, which provided Tottenham supporters with even greater ammunition to taunt their hosts.

Lambert had kept faith with a 3-5-2 formation but despite conceding 15 corners in the first half, Villa held firm and Brad Guzan made a catalogue of outstanding saves to keep Spurs at bay, including two stops from Bale and one from a Jermain Defoe effort.

A hamstring injury to Nathan Baker shortly before the break prompted a defensive reshuffle for Villa with a 4-4-2 system employed.

But Tottenham were to capitalise on Villa’s weakness early on in the second half. Kyle Naughton’s incisive pass found Defoe who raced through and beat Guzan with a shot through the legs.

The goal settled Tottenham’s nerves, dented Villa’s confidence and proved a catalyst for the floodgates to open.

And when Andre Villas-Boas’s side have a man of the calibre of Bale in inspired mood, the hosts’ team of competent but inexperienced youngsters never stood a chance.

Bale recently became a father and his performances on the pitch has reflected his behaviour off it as he shows a growing maturity.

“He’s up there with the best, he’s showing tremendous skills and talent,” said his manager. “I think he’s improving every game.

“His personality is wonderful. He’s going through an excellent moment of his professional and personal life and at the moment we are benefiting from that. You always expect the team can make an individual better.

“His finishing is very accurate, he’s been prolific in front of goal this season, so I think he’s enjoying getting into those positions. His left foot is wonderful and the power and direction he applies on the ball is wonderful.

“I have no concerns at all that he will be leaving. It’s very difficult, in England there is no release clauses and a player of this dimension has a market value that is not obtainable to most of the clubs.”

His first on the hour was a result of an error from Ciarán Clark but he raced on to his own through ball to beat Guzan.

On 72 minutes he had his second and it owed much to the work of Aaron Lennon but Bale was still on hand to produce an immaculate finish from just inside the area.

And when substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson playing him in for the hat-trick six minutes from time there was only going to be one result — Bale’s 10th club goal of the campaign.

Villa manager Paul Lambert insisted two straight heavy defeats would not be damaging to his young side.

“We never let them get too high or too low,” he said. “But the nature of football is that you can get hurt at any moment. If you win something, let it go. You have to move on. It’s the exact same with a defeat.

“We had a good chat the other day and they were fine. For some of them this is their first crack at Premier League football.”

ASTON VILLA: Guzan 7, Lowton 5, Herd 5, Clark 5, Baker 7 (Ireland 45, 6), Bennett 5, Westwood 5 (Albrighton 46, 6), El Ahmadi 4, Delph 5, Holman 6, Benteke 5.

TOTTENHAM: Lloris 6, Walker 7, Gallas 7, Vertonghen 7, Naughton 7, Lennon 7, Dembele 7 (Parker 66, 6), Sandro 7, Bale 9 (Townsend 85, 6), Defoe 7, Adebayor 7 (Sigurdsson 79, 6).

Referee: Mark Clattenburg


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