Tottenham 3-1 Blackburn: The Daily Mirror match report
Published 05:30 15/03/10 By John Cross
Gareth Bale drew glowing praise after another brilliant performance – and was then branded a diver.
Blackburn’s former Real Madrid hard-man Michel Salgado was given a torrid time by the young Welshman at White Hart Lane.
But Salgado claimed that Bale twice tried to con referee Howard Webb.
Bale, operating on the left side of midfield, was the architect of Tottenham’s victory but his performance will be remembered just as much for controversy.
Twice he appealed for a penalty, going down under Salgado’s challenge and then from Morten Gamst Pedersen’s tackle shortly afterwards.
England’s World Cup referee Webb waved away the appeals on both occasions – but did not book Bale.
Right-back Salgado, capped 53 times for Spain and a member of Real Madrid’s all-conquering Galacticos, reckons the Spurs man is a cheat.
Salgado said: “They were not penalties. There was contact but he was diving. The referee was really close to the play and he did the right thing.”
However, Salgado was also happy to salute Bale’s performance, comparing him to Valencia winger Vicente, which is rich praise indeed.
Salgado said: “Bale is a great player. He is like Vicente from Valencia. He was a player who drove forward with the ball, like Bale.
“He is a good player with a good future and he’s playing for a top team so he has a chance to be a very good player in the future.”
It’s easy to forget that, until two months ago, Spurs had never won a game in which Bale had started.
Bale, who joined Tottenham from Southampton for £5million three years ago, has come a long way in a short space of time.
His haircut is a throw-back to the Beatles era and he refuses to get it cut because he is apparently concerned about his ears sticking out.
But on the pitch it’s his talent that sticks out like a sore thumb.
Bale’s pace, crossing and dribbling terrorised Salgado and tore Blackburn apart. Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp says the penny has finally dropped with Bale and he is going from strength to strength.
Redknapp said: “He had that stigma of never being on a winning side at Tottenham in God knows how many games.
“Sir Alex Ferguson said to me last year ‘you can’t pick him, you’re mad!’ But now he looks fantastic.
“If he was English he’d be in the England team, for sure. I don’t know what has happened to him but I do know he’s toughened up.
“There was a spell when he used to get a little knock and he’d lay on the floor in training every day and the physio would run on.
“Now he’s different. He looks hard, he looks stronger and he’s filled out.
“He takes people on, he goes inside or outside, and he’s a great crosser of the ball. It’s all there – he’s a fantastic talent.”
Bale was the difference between the sides but the turning point came when Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson went off after just 25 minutes with a calf injury. The ex-Spurs keeper got a stunning ovation from both sets of fans.
Blackburn stand-in keeper Jason Brown, who looks shorter than the 5ft 11in he is listed as in the record books, was left flapping when Jermain Defoe put Tottenham ahead in first-half injury time.
Pavlyuchenko’s shot squirmed under Brown’s body after the restart, and though Rovers gave themselves hope with
Chris Samba’s 80th-minute header, Pavlyuchenko wrapped it up late on from a delightful Bale cross.