LONDON (AP) - Gareth Bale enhanced his burgeoning reputation by scoring twice, including a second-half winner, in Tottenham's 2-1 victory over Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday.
Having given Spurs a fifth-minute lead with a dipping free kick, the Wales winger powered through in the 78th to drive home the winning goal and ensure Spurs consolidated their position in the top four.
Bale, one of the Premier League's most exciting talents, has now scored in his last four matches in all competitions and has a career-high 13 in the league this season, almost single-handedly leading Tottenham's charge to a Champions League qualification spot.
Yoan Gouffran equalized for Newcastle in the 25th but was later carried off on a stretcher with an apparent shin injury.
Bale, who has constantly been linked with a move to Real Madrid, has now scored 10 times in his last 12 league appearances for Spurs. By adding goals to his superb all-round play, he is growing into a complete player and he was unstoppable at White Hart Lane.
Although his free kick was well struck, his first goal was avoidable as midfielder Jonas Gutierrez jumped sideways to leave a slight gap in the defensive wall. The shot dipped viciously and found the net low down at Tim Krul's near post.
Tottenham was rampant at that stage, with Bale, Lewis Holtby and Clint Dempsey causing all sorts of problems going forward, but Newcastle slowly came back into the game and deservedly equalized.
Moussa Sissoko, who is proving to be an inspired January signing from Toulouse, burst into space and squared the ball to Gouffran, whose fierce shot deflected off the diving Michael Dawson and spun into the corner.
It proved to be a bittersweet afternoon for Gouffran, however. Early in the second half, Tottenham right back Kyle Walker followed through with a clearance and caught Gouffran's right shin with his studs in what appeared an innocuous clash. The Frenchman was clearly in pain and was given oxygen while being carried off on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital.
Newcastle lost momentum with Gouffran's departure and Bale took full advantage, surging onto a loose ball just inside Newcastle's half before running through and driving a finish between Krul's leg.
Bale should have scored a hat trick but he lashed wildly over with his right foot in front of an open goal in injury time.