Gareth Bale was on target as Tottenham eased some of the pressure on boss Jose Mourinho with a convincing 4-1 victory away to Wolfsberger in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.
The Welshman, whose agent made headlines for highlighting the on-loan Real Madrid star’s lack of minutes earlier in the week, capped a rare start with a fine goal and an assist.
Tottenham left talisman Harry Kane out of their squad for the clash in Hungary, but it had little impact as they proved too strong for the Austrian minnows, who could not host the first leg on home soil due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Son Heung-Min opened the scoring on 13 minutes when he headed home Bale’s cross from the right. Bale then notched his fifth goal of the campaign when he left his marker for dead with an exquisite turn and clinical shot. Lucas Moura added a third just past the half hour with a delightful solo goal to cap an excellent first-half showing.
However, Spurs did not continue in the same vein after the restart and Michael Liendl reduced the arrears from the spot on 55 minutes.
Christopher Wernitznig almost pulled another goal back but rattled the crossbar from just inside the area.
The visitors sealed the win two minutes from time when substitute Carlos Vinicius stabbed in from close range.
Next up, Spurs visit West Ham on Sunday before hosting the second leg of this tie on Wednesday.
Tottenham Hotspur's Brazilian midfielder Lucas Moura (R) celebrates scoring the 0-3 goal with his team-mate Tottenham Hotspur's South Korean striker Son Heung-Min
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - Job done with plenty of plus points for Jose and Co.
After five defeats in their previous six matches, this proved to be the perfect tonic for Tottenham. Mourinho has come under fire and he simply needed his team to step up and claim a win against the Austrians. They not only did that, but they did it without Kane and pretty much have one foot in the last 16 now.
Both Bale and Dele Alli were given rare opportunities to impress and they did not disappoint. Granted, the opposition may not be of Premier League ilk, but Bale could yet use it as a chance to kick-start what has been a tepid second spell at Spurs so far.
Meanwhile, Alli produced moments of creative magic and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. The midfielder’s work ethic was also clear to see and will probably be what impressed Mourinho the most. It will now be interesting to see how much the pair feature going forward, but there’s no doubt this was an evening of many positives for the Lilywhites after a difficult run.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
No Instagram drama or words from his agent. This time Bale let his football do the talking. The forward was lively throughout his 65-minute run-out and Spurs fans will now be hoping he can have a similar impact in the final months of the season.
Tottenham Hotspur's English midfielder Harry Winks (R) and Wolfsberg's Austrian defender Michael Novak
Image credit: Getty Images
WOLFSBERGER: Kofler 6, Novak 6, Baumgartner 6, Lochoshvili 6, Scherzer 6, Sprangler 6, Taferner 6, Liendl 7, Wernitznig 7, Vizinger 6, Joveljic 6. Subs: Henriksson 6, Stratznig 6, Giorbelidze 6, Dieng 6, Pavelic n/a.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris 7, Doherty 7, Alderweireld 7, Dier 7, Davies 7, Winks 7, Sissoko 7, Dele Alli 7, Bale 7, Lucas 7, Son 7. Subs: Vinicius 6, Lamela 6, Bergwijn 6, Hojbjerg 6, Ndombele 6.
13’ - GOAL! – Wolfsberger AC 0-1 Tottenham. Son adjusts neatly to guide a low header into the far corner after lovely play from Doherty and Bale on the right. Bale with the assist.
28’ - GOAL! – Wolfsberger AC 0-2 Tottenham. Bale makes it two. The Welshman leaves Scherzer for dead with a sublime turn before firing a clinical shot into the far corner.
30’ – WOLFSBERGER AC CHANCE! Lloris brilliantly stops WAC from reducing the arrears by clawing Vizinger's powerful header onto the bar.
34’ - GOAL! – Wolfsberger AC 0-3 Tottenham. Lucas Moura gets in on the act with a stunning solo run that sees him charge in from the left, bamboozle a couple of defenders and fizz a low shot beyond the keeper.
55’ - GOAL! – Wolfsberger AC 1-3 Tottenham. Liendl coolly sends Lloris the wrong way from the spot. The penalty was awarded after Sissoko fouled Wernitznig.
88’ - GOAL! – Wolfsberger AC 1-4 Tottenham. Carlos Vinicius stabs home Lamela's header from close range to put the seal on a fine victory.
Excluding qualifiers, Son Heung-Min is the fourth Spurs player to score 20 European goals, after Harry Kane (29), Martin Chivers (22) and Jermain Defoe (20).
Gareth Bale scored and assisted in a game for Spurs for the first time since April 2013 against Manchester City at White Hart Lane.