GARETH Bale bagged a second-half hat-trick as Tottenham returned to the top four with a comfortable victory at Aston Villa.
Tottenham Hotspur - Defoe (57), Bale (61, 73, 84)
After dominating the first- half without managing to make a breakthrough, Spurs went ahead in the 57th minute when Jermain Defoe nutmegged Brad Guzan to register his 14th goal of the season.
Bale, who had already gone close twice, then stole the show, netting in the 61st, 73rd and 84th minutes to take his own tally for the campaign to ten.
The result ensures Tottenham keep up their push for Champions League football, moving them up to fourth in the table, level on points with fifth-placed Everton and sixth-placed West Brom.
The picture is somewhat different for Villa, who had been looking to bounce back from the 8-0 mauling they suffered at Chelsea three days ago but instead were beaten comprehensively once again and remain only three points above the relegation zone in 16th place.
Defoe put Tottenham in front in the 57th minute, stabbing in through Guzan’s legs having latched on to Kyle Naughton’s through-ball.
Four minutes later Spurs doubled their lead, taking advantage of some sloppy play by their opponents.
Benteke’s cross was cut out to launch a Tottenham counter-attack which Villa could not halt, with a Bennett tackle sending the ball to Bale, who advanced forward, rounded Guzan and prodded home.
It took a further 12 minutes for Bale to grab another goal and effectively end the game as a contest, the Welshman collecting Lennon’s pass in the box and slotting it into the corner.
He then completed his treble with six minutes of normal time remaining, sending the ball into the roof of Guzan’s net from Icelandic substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson’s tee-up.