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Bale beats Brighton with first goal since Tottenham return

Gareth Bale's late goal lifted Spurs to a crucial win over Brighton to send Tottenham into second place in the table.

Tottenham - Brighton saw Gareth Bale provide his first heroic moment since returning to Tottenham Hotspur as he headed home the late winner in a 2-1 victory in north London on Sunday.

[ MORE: “Team player” Bale says Spurs can be “very competitive” in title race ]

Harry Kane bagged his sixth Premier League goal of the season early in the first half before Brighton hit back in controversial fashion not long after halftime, setting the stage for Bale’s triumphant rescue after coming off the bench 20 minutes left to play.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]

The result sends Tottenham second in the PL table after seven games, just two points back of leaders and defending champions Liverpool.

2 things we learned: Tottenham - Brighton

1. Bale. That’s it. That’s the lesson: OK, fine, we’ll expound a bit on that. While a completely different player than he was during his first stint at Tottenham (see below), Bale proved on Sunday that, once he reaches full fitness, he is still capable of making a massive impact. With all due respect to Tottenham, Bale is a level (or two) above the caliber of player they should have in their squad. Even just 80 percent of his best will be an important piece of the puzzle.

2. New Jose, just like the old Jose (re-post, with updates): If you looked at Tottenham’s first five (six) games this season and saw they had scored 15 (16) goals — tops in the PL — and thought to yourself, “Wow, that Jose Mourinho, he really worked on himself and came back a better manager for it,” then shame on you. Sure, Burnley’s style isn’t exactly conducive to a wide-open, entertaining game, but it takes two to tango, and Mourinho is forever a willing participant in a nothing’s-really-happening defensive battle. (It happened again on Sunday, only this time it was Mourinho moving to to the beat of his own drum. Brighton were expansive and comfortable in possession, while Tottenham sat deeper and venture forward less and less. In total: 43 percent of possession and just nine shots, but three points.)

Spurs needed just 13 minutes to open the scoring and for Kane to bag his 149th Premier League goal for the club (199 in all competitions). Kane was clattered into by Adam Lallana right on the edge of the penalty area, and after video review the foul was deemed to have occurred within the boundaries of the box. Penalty to Spurs, goal to Kane.

Video review didn’t quite even itself out in the first half, as Brighton were perhaps due a penalty of their own in the 23rd minute. Matt Doherty appeared to pull Leandro Trossard back as he raced to finish a through ball at the back post. The video review was quick and went Tottenham’s way.

As far as scoring chances go, the first half was otherwise devoid of anymore real quality.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Brighton were fully deserving of what would have been a 56th-minute equalize, on the basis of controlling the game and putting far more pressure on Tottenham than vice versa, though there appeared to be a clear foul committed by the Seagulls in the build-up. Solly March got Pierre-Emile Hojberg and very little, if any, of the ball in winning it back for Brighton mere seconds before Tariq Lamptey slid it past Hugo Lloris. Graham Scott had a long look at the field-side monitor and decided there was no foul, and the goal would stand.

Kane missed goal no. 150 and 200 in astonishing, truly unbelievable fashion with 70 minutes on the clock. He had a bit of work to do in bringing the ball down from an awkward bounce, but somehow put the ball off the post from a yard out. It was beginning to look like another disappointing draw for Spurs, until…

Speaking of players reaching the 199-goal mark, Bale moved one shy of the 200-club (for club and country) in the 73rd minute. It was the Welsh superstar’s first goal for Tottenham since the final day of the 2012-13 season, and Mourinho’s men could not have been more desperate for his moment of magic. Sergio Reguilon, who also arrived from Real Madrid this summer, served up the cross and Bale rose above everyone to head it past Robert Sanchez.

Follow @AndyEdMLS