Bottom of the Championship Wycombe Wanderers suffered a 4-1 defeat against fifth-placed Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.
Gareth Bale’s return continued as made his first start since his calf injury, scoring an important equaliser for Spurs to set his side back on their way.
Gareth Bale’s Return Continues as He Helps Spurs Crack Resilient Wycombe Wanderers
Spurs Late Goal Flurry Seals Victory
Fred Onyedinma smashed home Wycombe’s first to threaten a cup upset. Toby Alderweireld was outpowered by Uche Ikpeazu, whose shot fell out to Onyedinma who planted it into the bottom left. It was yet another worrying defensive display with Spurs facing Liverpool in mid-week.
Moussa Sissoko’s scuffed shot deflected off Darius Charles and onto the Wycombe post for one of many spurned Spurs chances.
Japhet Tanganga turned Harry Winks’ cross onto the crossbar, as Spurs scrambled to find a reply just before half time.
But it was Gareth Bale who eventually found his shooting boots. Moura dinked the ball in, Bale evaded Wycombe’s defenders, hooking a shot over the goalkeeper to equalise.
In the second half, the Lilywhites had to bring on Harry Kane, Tanguy Ndombele and Son Heung-min in a bid to win the game.
It paid off, with mounting pressure, Kane’s shot bounced back out to Winks, who curled a left-footer into the bottom left in the 87th minute.
A minute later, Spurs broke again, Son skipping inside, finding Ndombele who calmly finished in the 88th minute to make it 3-1.
Ndombele added another in the 93rd minute, dragging the ball this way and that in the box, before firing home.
Gareth Bale’s Return
Gareth Bale has only made one start in the Premier League thus far. He has been limited by injury since returning to his old club.
He missed two big chances in the first 13 minutes.
The first was a header from close range. His second effort came when he advanced on goal, just outside the box in a central position. A third chance came in the 29th-minute; he stepped past Joe Jacobson, but he could not steer his right footed shot to the near post. The old Bale would have had at least one goal with those chances.
On his fourth attempt, Bale found that elusive goal. Afterwards, he grew in confidence, gradually increasing the intensity of his runs.
It is clear that Bale is still trying to find his form, carefully testing the limits of his body.
Crucially he was creating chances and getting into the positions to score goals. Some of his runs, even if not against world-beating opposition, gave glimpses of his own world-class ability.
Boss Jose Mourinho has insisted the Welshman must earn his minutes on the field.
But the Portuguese made it clear that he was training as hard as anyone in the past week.
“This week he is working every minute like everybody else at a good intensity and let’s see the way that he reacts to the accumulation of that kind of work and let’s see how he reacts by the end of the week.”
Bale was one of 10 changes with Spurs delving into their resources for this encounter.
One pleasant surprise was Erik Lamela’s start. The Argentinian was not involved against Marine, restricted to just three starts prior to tonight’s fixture. He played with the tenacity that he often brings, and looked to be recovering from his injury.
Brazilian Link-up Play
Lucas Moura had a good night, providing an all-important assist for Bale’s equaliser.
His runs constantly challenged the Wycombe defence, and he often looked for compatriot Carlos Vinicius.
Moura has been helping Vinicius both on and off the pitch, even including feeding him lines for post-match interviews.
Tonight he did his best to feed balls into him. A few times Vinicius was able to hold play up, receiving it from Moura.
Tottenham have a busy week ahead, with two league matches against Liverpool and then Brighton & Hove Albion. Bale will need to be carefully managed, but Spurs should have a deep enough squad to meet the challenge.