KEY POINTS

  • Gareth Bale notched his first goal for the Spurs since his return
  • Coach Jose Mourinho has seen significant improvement from Bale since being sidelined
  • Mourinho looks to put Bale back in the starting lineup but with limited playing time

Drawing shades of his vintage form that catapulted him to stardom, Gareth Bale steered Tottenham Hotspur to a 2-1 victory over Brighton in the English Premier League on Sunday.

Head coach Jose Mourinho felt that he made the right decision of fielding Bale late in the fixture, knowing that he could make a difference in the neck-and-neck battle with Brighton.

"For a week or so now, he's been improving," Mourinho said, as quoted by Goal. "It's not just from watching him. The data supports that as well. We knew Gareth knew. We share ideas and feelings."

It was Bale’s heroics that bailed the Spurs out of their tough predicament versus the Seagulls as a crucial VAR ruling changed the complexion of the match.

After Harry Kane provided Tottenham the 1-nil edge from the penalty spot early in the contest, Brighton's Tariq Lamptey scored the equalizer in the second half despite Seagull's wing-back Solly March fouling Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

The VAR operator alerted referee Graham Scott about the possible foul in the lead-up to Lamptey's goal and asked the official to come and review the sequence on the monitor.

The footage suggested that March tackled Hojbjerg without touching the ball, but the referee ruled that Lamptey's goal should stand after reviewing the incident for 70 seconds.

Despite the call going against their favor, it never dampened Bale's drive to walk away with the win. Coming from a well-timed cross pass by Sergio Reguilon at the 73rd minute, the Welsh winger delivered the game-winner with a header that caused his teammates to run amuck in jubilation.

"He deserves that [the goal]. When I have five minutes, I'm going on Safari to look at the Madrid websites to see what they say about him,” Mourinho stated in jest.

"He showed great personality and had a great impact, scoring a very important goal for us. He also joined Harry in a very experienced way to play the last 15 minutes for us."

This marked Bale's first goal since returning to Tottenham earlier this year, proving that he has a lot left in his tank regardless of how he played in his final year with Real Madrid.

"He knows that we care about him and he cares about the club. I think he's a perfect fit. He's very calm, very intelligent. I'm very pleased for him to score the winning goal," the 57-year-old manager explained.

Bale and the Spurs will be back in action on Thursday as they face Ludogorets in the Europa League.

Having a huge role in putting Tottenham at the No. 2 spot in the Premier League standings, Mourinho intends to ease Bale back into the starting lineup. But the coach clarified that the player will still be under monitoring.

"He is, of course, getting better and better and better. He will start again on Thursday, but he will not play 90 minutes. I will use him in the right way," Mourinho .

Gareth Bale scored for the first time since returning to Tottenham Gareth Bale scored for the first time since returning to Tottenham Photo: POOL / Julian Finney