Bale was the difference, says Tottenham boss Villas-Boas

The Portuguese manager praised the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year's late, decisive goal which gave the north London club victory over Southampton on Saturday
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has hailed the impact of Gareth Bale, as the Wales international struck a vicious, swerving late winner to bag all three points for his side against Southampton.

Mauricio Pochettino's side, by Villas-Boas' own admission, had edged the contest in the first half, but Bale - who previously played for the Saints - kept Spurs' top-four hopes alive with a thunderous effort from the edge of the box.

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The goal is the Welshman's 20th of the season, and Villas-Boas was quick to praise the contribution of his star player, who had been largely kept under wraps until his 86th-minute winner.

"It [Bale's goal] was a game-decider, a great moment of individual brilliance to decide the game," Villas-Boas told Sky Sports after the game.

"We kept pushing. Gareth played three different positions - striker, left, right - to try and get the best out of him.

"Southampton dealt with him well, they were well organised. But, last-gasp, there was a bit more space, perhaps because we were pushing for the winner."

Villas-Boas recognised that Southampton had enjoyed greater control in the first half, with Rickie Lambert thumping the post from a free kick, but the White Hart Lane outfit responded in the second half to claim three valuable points.

"In the first half, Southampton had the better chances," Villas-Boas added.

"We regrouped at half-time, and in the second half we tried hard to get the result. We played our football.

"The fans were amazing; the noise at the Lane was incredible in the last 45 minutes."