AVB pays tribute to 'incredible' Bale
Soccer:Andre Villas-Boas heaped praise on Gareth Bale after his match-winning display put Tottenham in the driving seat against Lyon in their Europa League clash. An under par Spurs side were tonight dragged over the line by the in-form Welsh winger, whose fine season continued in the first leg of their round of 32 tie at White Hart Lane.
The Londoners went in at the break ahead after a Bale free-kick on the stroke of half-time, although Lyon looked to have secured a draw through Samuel Umtiti’s thumping effort 10 minutes into the second half. Bale, though, had other ideas, firing home another stunning free-kick in stoppage-time to give Villas-Boas’ side a 2-1 lead heading to central France.
“Incredible,” the Portuguese said. “Not only his all-round game but the ability he has to strike these free-kicks. The ball gains so much power when he strikes it and it changes direction very, very easily. We we saw not only two great moments of brilliance but three as their goal was absolutely fantastic, too.
“It played out to be an excellent game. Maybe the first half was a little more exciting as in the second half both teams struggled to get the ball on the ground and get it moving. It was a bit sloppy but we saw some moments of individual brilliance and Gareth was fantastic once again.”
The strikes mean Bale has scored seven goals in his last five matches for club and country, again leading to suggestions he is among the best players in the world. Asked if Bale was up there with the Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, Villas-Boas said: “Yeah, he is going through a great individual moment.
“I think you have to recognise that. He is scoring lots of goals for the team and I think this is his best goalscoring season for Tottenham. You can see the player is enjoying his football and getting a buzz out of it. Once things like this happen, individual players keep their motivation high and they are able to help the team reach their objectives.”
Tottenham now have seven days to prepare for the second leg in France, which Villas-Boas believes is delicately poised due to Umtiti’s strike.
“It is difficult,” he said. “Their goal can obviously represent a lot for them. We are a team that normally scores away from home so we hope to cancel their away goal in some way.
“We are going to set out the same way — to try to attack and score. Even if they score before, we are going to attack to try to cancel out this goal. Obviously it gives them an initial advantage in the beginning.”