Tottenham Hotspur have recorded another win, keeping them just ahead of rivals Liverpool and Arsenal in the race for a Champions League spot in the Premier League. They finally put out close to a full strength lineup with Aaron Lennon out right, as well as Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric where they belong and Ledley King back in the center of defense. Unsurprisingly, they put in their best looking performance of the year with this team on the field, defeating Queens Park Rangers 3-1 at White Hart Lane.
Spurs began the game with some fantastic passing moves, and it seemed from the kickoff forward that an early goal was imminent. In the opening 20 minutes, van der Vaart forced a save out of Paddy Kenny with a great shot, while Emmanuel Adebayor had two poor misses, one on the end of a counter attack and another on a free kick.
Adebayor was actually quite poor in the first 20 minutes, but redeemed himself in the 21st by starting the move that led to the opening goal. The Togolese international started it off with a flicked header behind him for van der Vaart to run on, near the center of the pitch. He laid it off to Lennon, who played a pass into the box for Gareth Bale. Bale adjusted himself to get onto his favored left foot over the ball and ripped a shot past Kenny at his far post from 15 yards out, hitting the back of the net to put his team up 1-0.
Spurs doubled their lead in the 34th, with a fantastic long build-up. After a long spell of possession and a couple of balls into the box, the ball deflected out towards the middle of the pitch, where King had stepped up. He took an ambitious shot from 30 yards out and it took a deflection, luckily falling to a marginally onside van der Vaart. The Dutchman finished for his fifth goal in as many games, and it appeared that Spurs were going to cruise to an easy win.
Tottenham had two more chances before the end of the half, with Modric missing a foot wide on a volley attempt in the 38th and Adebayor missing a rip in the 41st. On that latter chance, the poor positioning of Luke Young was exploited, with the right back nowhere to be found as Adebayor raced down the left hand side. Spurs probably should have scored more than twice in the first half, but went into the locker room most likely feeling content with the score and happy with their performance.
Neil Warnock made two subs at halftime, taking off a couple of his ineffective players. Adel Taarabt and Shaun Derry came off, replaced by Jay Bothroyd and Jamie Mackie.
The decision to bring on Bothroyd would prove to be a great one, as he scored a goal in the 61st minute to bring QPR back within one. Joey Barton swung in a gorgeous corner kick, which was nodded on towards goal by Heidar Helguson and finished off by Bothroyd. Spurs were the dominant side throughout the first 60 minutes, but Bothroyd's goal had them wishing they would have finished off their earlier chances...temporarily.
Then, in the 72nd minute, Gareth Bale completed his brace with a fantastic strike. Like the other goals, it was a great team goal in which a number of players were involved in a solid build-up. Once again, it was Lennon who played the final pass before Bale took a rip from a similar spot and distance to his first goal, but this time placing it perfectly to his near post.
Spurs now sit in fifth with a game in hand on first through third, while QPR sit in 12th.