Gareth Bale hat-trick helps Tottenham to a 4-0 Premier League win over Aston Villa
Gareth Bale's stunning second-half hat-trick helped Tottenham to cruise to a 4-0 victory against Aston Villa.
Last Updated: 26/12/12 11:14pm
Despite dominating the opening 45 minutes, it took until the 57th minute before Jermain Defoe opened the scoring for Spurs.
Wales international Bale then took over with three goals in just 23 minutes to lift the north Londoners back into fourth position in the Premier League after their fifth win in their last seven.
Villa, meanwhile, set an unwanted record of their own having now conceded 12 goals in just two matches and they remain in 16th position.
Spurs went close early on when Bale saw a curling effort from outside the box kept out by a fine diving save from Brad Guzan, who was in inspirational form for the hosts in the first half.
Emmanuel Adebayor then nodded a Bale corner goalwards, with Guzan just managing to hold on to the ball.
Villa threatened towards the end of the half as Matthew Lowton delivered a ball that the sliding Brett Holman could not finish at the far post.
There were some encouraging signs for the home side in the opening minutes after the restart, albeit with Lowton ballooning a shot off-target and Christian Benteke being flagged offside as he brought a fine save out of Hugo Lloris.
The Villa fans' mood soon darkened as Spurs went ahead in the 57th minute when Defoe nut-megged Guzan to register his 14th goal of the season after a sumptuous through-ball by Kyle Naughton.
Bale then stole the show, netting in the 61st, 73rd and 84th minutes to take his own tally for the campaign to 10.
He took his first calmly following a counter-attack which he finished off by rounding Guzan and prodding home from close range.
It took a further 12 minutes for Bale to grab another goal and effectively end the game as a contest, the Welshman collecting Aaron Lennon's pass in the box and dispatching it into the bottom corner.
He then completed his treble with six minutes of normal time remaining, sending the ball into the roof of the net from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson's delightful tee-up.