LONDON: Tottenham moved up, temporarily at least, to third in the Premier League after winning 2-1 at Sunderland but the match ended amid controversy over the latest ‘diving’ booking for Gareth Wales.
The Wales wingback fell after defender Craig Gardner threw an obstructive arm across his chest, disrupting his high-speed dash and sending him tumbling to the ground.
Not only were Spurs not awarded a penalty but referee Martin Atkinson pulled out the yellow card which means Bale will now miss the club’s next game against Reading.
Both Bale – a focus of the ongoing controversy over simulation – and his manager, Andre Villas-Boas, expressed their disappointment after the game.
Villas-Boas said: “Reputations are sometimes created, maybe in the media, and it’s a bit unfair. If you see the images the defender goes to our player and clips him.
“I think it’s extremely unfair that he misses the Reading game through such a big mistake.”
Bale, in his own defence, added: “That’s the third time now I’ve been clipped and booked for no reason again. There’s nothing I can do, the referees need to look a bit closer.
“People think I’m diving when there’s contact. If there’s contact it’s a penalty or free kick, there’s nothing I can do. If there’s contact, what do you want me to do – hit my head on the floor? I have to put my hands down to protect myself. If people kick me, I’m going to go down. People keep saying I’m diving but . . . it’s a foul and I know it myself.”
Spurs trailed at the break to John O’Shea’s first goal for the Black Cats despite having enjoyed the better of a first half during which striker Emmanuel Adebayor hit the bar from two yards.
However, Carlos Cuellar’s own goal three minutes after the restart gave the visitors a foothold and they capitalised three minutes later when Aaron Lennon sped through to beat keeper Simon Mignolet.
No change at the top of the table.
Leaders Manchester United saw off West Bromwich 2-0 with an own goal from Gareth McAuley and late strike from substitute Robin Van Persie. The league’s top scoring Dutchman claimed his 14th goal of term on replacing Shinji Kagawa who had been outstanding on his first appearance for two months after injury.
Edin Dzeko hates his label of ‘super sub’ and he did his best to shake it off with a hat-trick after starting Manchester City’s 4-3 win at Norwich. City won despite having Samir Nasri sent off for a head butt just before half-time but remain seven points adrift of United.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini said: “We played fantastic for 25 minutes and should have scored three or four. With 10 men it was difficult and the guys played very well. Today we showed we are there for the title.”
Another hat-trick hero was Theo Walcott in Arsenal’s 7-3 thrashing of Newcastle.
Robert Huth, below his best, made the defensive mistake which cost a second goal in Stoke’s 3-3 home draw against Southampton. Later he had to change his blood-spattered shorts and shirt after a clash of heads with fellow defender Andy Wilkinson.
At the other end of the table collapsing Aston Villa slipped into the relegation zone after losing 3-0 at home to fellow strugglers Wigan. Villa have conceded 15 goals in their last three games.
** Referee Mick Russell faces FA disciplinary action after booking Sheffield Wednesday winger Jeremy Helan twice in the 0:0 second division draw at Huddersfield but not sending him off.
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