Norwich, Dec 28: Gareth Bale grabbed a second-half double as third-place Tottenham cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over Norwich to keep the pressure on the Manchester clubs at the top of the Premier League on Tuesday.
The Wales winger revived memories of his performances in the Champions League last season with an impressive individual display at Carrow Road, capped by goals in the 55th and 67th minutes.
While his first was a simple close-range shot after good work from Emmanuel Adebayor, his second was more memorable, bursting through the middle before supplying a deft finish over Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy.
"He's an amazing player isn't he?" Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said of Bale. "When he picks the ball up, turns and runs at you, he is unplayable."
The win lifted Spurs to within seven points of Manchester City and Manchester United, with the London club still holding a game in hand — at home to Everton next month.
It also moved Redknapp's team four points clear of Chelsea, which may have dropped out of title contention by drawing 1-1 at home to Fulham on Monday. Arsenal is a further point back after being held 1-1 by Wolverhampton earlier on Tuesday.
"It was a great few days for us — we've taken advantage of other teams dropping points," Bale said. "We said at the start of the season that our main objective was to get back in the Champions League and that's still the case. We are just going to take it one game at a time."
Bale emerged as a potential superstar in a breakthrough 2010-11 season in which he won the English league's Player of the Year award.
His talent was already well known in Britain but fans worldwide were given a taste of his pace and power when he ripped apart the defenses of Italian giants AC Milan and Inter Milan in Champions League games.
His displays this campaign have been slightly more subdued but he was unstoppable against Norwich at Carrow Road, where he could feasibly have scored four of five times. Bale had seven of Tottenham's 15 shots in all.
"You just have to keep grinding out chances and hope one will come for you. And it did," Bale said.
A 27th-minute shot deflected just wide before he ran clean through following a defensive blunder by Russell Martin, but blazed high and wide as he lost his balance with only Ruddy to beat.
Bale then drew a smart save out of Ruddy in the 35th as Norwich somehow reached the interval without conceding, despite having been given a footballing masterclass from the visitors.
Spurs, who were unfortunate to only draw 1-1 with Chelsea last week, found their cutting edge in the second half through Bale.
Adebayor, who was a menace to the Norwich defense all game, displayed some impressive close control when surrounded by a cluster of defenders before laying the ball off to Bale, who sidefooted past Ruddy from 10 yards (meters).
Adebayor had a goal disallowed for offside in the 66th but Bale made it 2-0 a minute later, running onto a pass from Luka Modric, powering clear of Zak Whitbread before chipping Ruddy.
"Winning the title is not impossible — that is all I have ever said," Redknapp said. "Man United and Man City look so strong but we are up there and we just have to keep picking up points and see where we finish."