Tottenham will have an easy decision to send Gareth Bale back to Real Madrid at the end of the season unless the forward improves, according to Dimitar Berbatov.

Bale returned to Spurs on a season-long loan deal in September amid huge fanfare, but he has failed to live up to the hype thus far.

The 31-year-old has only made one Premier League start and is yet to play a full 90 minutes in any competition amid issues with injuries, fitness and form.

After reports suggested Spurs had already decided not to extend his loan for a second season, manager Jose Mourinho insisted last week there has not been "one second of discussion" over the issue.

But former Spurs star Berbatov believes the outcome is clear unless the Wales international embarks on a rapid turnaround in the second half of the season. 

Berbatov told Stats Perform News: "I was expecting a lot of him coming to Spurs, to shake things up and for him, Son and Kane to make it a trio up front that can rival the Liverpool attacking trio, for example.

"For the moment it is 100 per cent not working.

"There are still games until the end of the season, enough for him to show what he can do, in the [EFL Cup] final they play as well.

"So hopefully he can get back to 100 per cent and start playing. If not, in the end it is an easy decision – he can go back to Madrid."

Bale was an unused substitute in the 3-1 win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Berbatov added: "In a way, it is disappointing that he is not being given more time to play. 

"But if you are not given more time to play, there are two reasons for that. Either are you injured and not in good shape to play or you are not performing well in training.

"Whatever the reason [for his lack of games] Gareth Bale is injury free now is because he's on the bench for the team.

"But he's not playing from the from the first minute so it means that obviously he's not producing the right level of football Jose Mourinho wants from him, which is a shame because I like him a lot."

With the EFL Cup final against Manchester City coming up in April, Berbatov feels Bale – along with Mourinho and captain Hugo Lloris – can play a huge role. 

Spurs were unable to win a trophy despite five and a half otherwise productive years under Mauricio Pochettino.

Berbatov – who won the League Cup with Spurs in 2008 – underlined the importance of lifting silverware.

"Jose Mourinho has led them to the final but let's not celebrate now because you need to make one more step," said Berbatov.

"I remember the game before we qualified for the final. We played against Arsenal and we beat them 5-1, everybody was celebrating like we won the final. And I'm like, 'People we are not there yet'. 

"We need to wait, we have one more step to make and then we can celebrate."

Berbatov continued: "The person who brought them there is Jose Mourinho. I think this is the reason they brought him into the club – to win trophies.

"It doesn't matter how [they get there] – the Premier League title, the cup, something – they need one so they can get that winning mentality going. 

"Although they have a world champion in their team, the goalkeeper, he should know how things are won – especially [having lifted] the World Cup. 

"So him, Jose Mourinho, Gareth Bale – who is coming from winning mentality – will run with it. Those three are very important, they can teach them in a way how to win things and then get that winning feeling.

"And after get that feeling, trust me, you don't want to let it go."

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho says there has not been "one second of discussion" over the decision on whether to extend Gareth Bale's stay.

Bale re-joined Spurs to much fanfare on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid in September.

But his return has not yet met expectations, with Bale only making one Premier League start and yet to play a full 90 minutes in any competition amid issues with injuries, fitness and form.

Spurs are said to have an option to sign Bale for a second year on loan, but reports have suggested the Wales forward, who has scored only three times since his return to north London, is instead poised to head back to Madrid at the end of the season.

Asked if the decision not to extend his loan was made, Mourinho said: "There was not even a second of discussion about that.

"Gareth is a player on loan until the end of the season.

"Not one second of discussion. We are speaking about, of course, Gareth, himself, Real Madrid, Tottenham, but I promise you, not one second of discussion.

"Of course, you know that he arrived injured. And he was injured before, I believe, the first month. And then, step by step, Europa League matches were helping him to get his condition.

"Europa League group phase is a different level than the Premier League. The knockout round is a different story. But the group phase is a different intensity, a different rhythm, a different quality.

"So, in the Premier League, he didn't play many minutes. Then another small injury at Stoke City [in the EFL Cup] where he was having a good first half. It is not an easy process.

"Everybody knew that in the past couple of seasons, in Madrid, they were not easy for him. So, let's go, step by step, and try to get the best out of him."

Spurs were held to a 1-1 draw by Fulham on Wednesday, though they are on a six-game unbeaten run across all competitions.

They face Sheffield United, who have only just recorded their first win of the Premier League season, at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Mourinho added: "Gio [Lo Celso] of course is not [available] and we still have two training sessions before the game. But I believe no more problems in principle.

"They [Sheffield United] are not the worst team in the Premier League at all. They're a much, much, much better team than what the table says.

"You analyse their matches and many times the opponent was not better than them. I don't look to the table. Of course, I look but I go deeper than that.

"Many times, it was one of the small big details that decides the points, decides the score, decides the table.

"Many times, they lose 1-0, they draw 1-1, they are a very good team. If in our mind we are going to play the worst team in the Premier League, we are going to be in big trouble."

Manchester City reportedly believe they lead the race for Lionel Messi if the star leaves Barcelona.

Messi, 33, is out of contract at Barca at the end of the season and is linked with a move from the LaLiga giants.

The forward stayed at Camp Nou after sensationally requesting a transfer ahead of 2020-21, but it may have just delayed his exit.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY LEAD MESSI RACE IF STAR LEAVES

Manchester City believe they lead the race for Messi if he leaves Barcelona, according to The Telegraph.

City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter have been most strongly linked with a move for Messi, who is expected to make a decision on his future at the end of the campaign.

Messi has scored 12 goals in 20 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Gareth Bale injured, his chances of a longer stay at Tottenham appear slim. AS reports Real Madrid are expecting the attacker to return to the club at the end of his loan spell at the conclusion of the campaign, and that would hurt their chances of signing Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe with Bale contracted until 2022.

- Georginio Wijnaldum's future is no closer to being sorted. Sky Sports reports the midfielder and Liverpool have reached a stalemate over a new contract. Wijnaldum's deal expires at the end of the season and the Netherlands international has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

- Starring at Tottenham this season, Son Heung-min could be set for a new deal. The Telegraph reports Spurs are confident the forward, who is contracted until 2023, will re-sign.

- Mesut Ozil could finally be set to leave Arsenal. DHA reports the playmaker has agreed to a three-and-a-half-year deal with Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

- With Moise Kean impressing on loan at Paris Saint-Germain, Everton are expecting an offer for the forward, according to the Liverpool Echo. Kean has 10 goals in 17 matches for PSG this season.

- Diego Alonso is under pressure at the helm of Inter Miami, and Sky Sports reports the MLS side have approached Phil Neville, who is the coach of England's women's team, to take over.

Gareth Bale's unwanted piece of Premier League history has been taken by Oliver Burke after Sheffield United lost again at Burnley.

Tottenham winger Bale, a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, previously held the record for the longest wait for a first Premier League win.

After his initial move to Spurs from Southampton in 2007, the Wales superstar went 24 matches without ending on the winning side.

Not until September 2009 did Bale play a part in a top-flight triumph, making a late cameo at left-back in a 5-0 defeat of Burnley.

The Clarets were the opposition again on Tuesday as Sheffield United's Burke attempted to avoid topping Bale's miserable mark.

But a 1-0 reverse courtesy of Ben Mee's header meant Burke, a 63rd-minute substitute, took the record outright.

Burke's first 15 winless Premier League matches came in West Brom's 2017-18 relegation campaign and United are facing the same fate this term.

Chris Wilder's side are rooted to the bottom of the table with just two points after 16 matches.

As well as Burke's personal woe, the failure to beat Burnley saw the Blades equal Queens Park Rangers' 2012-13 record winless run from the start of a season. QPR were relegated.

Tottenham forward Gareth Bale is facing yet another spell on the sidelines after injuring his calf in last week's EFL Cup quarter-final win over Stoke City.

The Wales international did not return for the second half and subsequently missed the 1-1 draw with Wolves on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho expects to be without the Real Madrid loanee for "a few weeks", potentially seeing him miss up to six matches at an important time of the season.

It is the latest in a long line of injury setbacks for Bale, who was hoping to revive his career at Tottenham after joining on a season's loan from Madrid in September.

But how much of a miss will the 31-year-old actually be for Mourinho in his quest to win some rare silverware for Spurs?

YET TO COMPLETE 90 MINS

Bale has played in 11 of Tottenham's 24 matches in all competitions since joining 14 weeks ago - four of those appearances coming in the Premier League - having arrived unfit.

He has started eight times in total and has yet to complete the full 90 minutes of a single match he has featured in during that time.

The Welshman has been on the field for a combined 599 minutes this term - less than seven whole matches - with 161 of those minutes coming in the English top flight.

Of the 22 players to have featured for Spurs in the league this term, only Joe Rodon (101), Dele Alli (74) and Carlos Vinicius (12) have played fewer combined minutes.

NO LONGER PROLIFIC

Bale has found the net three times in his second spell with Tottenham, the first of those coming in the 2-1 league win over Brighton and Hove Albion on November 1.

That goal, 200 seconds after he had entered the field, came seven years and 166 days after his previous strike for the club against another of his former sides in Southampton.

He also netted in a 3-3 draw with LASK in the Europa League earlier this month and in last week's 3-1 EFL Cup win over Stoke prior to sustaining his latest injury.

That gives him a return of one goal every 199.7 minutes in 2020-21, or one every 161 minutes in the Premier League.

Bale is one of seven players to have scored for Spurs in the league this term, with the likes of Vinicius, Alli, Erik Lamela (194 minutes) and Steven Bergwijn (592) yet to do so.

SIGNS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

The Southampton academy product has created seven chances for team-mates but has yet to register a single assist this campaign.

However, the two big chances Bale has created in the league - defined by Opta as a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score - ranks favourably.

Son Heung-min (12 big chances) and Harry Kane (10) are the only Tottenham players to have created more, despite Bale's lack of minutes.

Bale also ranks favourably in the dribbles metric, his 57.14 per cent success rate in the league bettered only by Moussa Sissoko (60 per cent), Tanguy Ndombele (68.75) and Lamela (85.71) among those to have attempted more than one dribble.

The versatile attacker has certainly shown signs that he can still offer a lot to Spurs in comparison to their other wide players, then, but keeping him fit is proving to be a big challenge for Mourinho.

Gareth Bale's stop-start return to Tottenham has stalled again after the on-loan Real Madrid winger was ruled out for a "few weeks".

Bale sustained a calf problem during the EFL Cup quarter-final win at Stoke City on December 23, failing to emerge for the second half, and played no part in the 1-1 draw at Wolves four days later.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho has now confirmed the Wales international, who has made just one Premier League start following his much-heralded return to north London, is set for a frustrating spell on the sidelines.

"I wouldn't say [Bale's injury] is serious but I'd say a few weeks," said Mourinho, whose team host Fulham on Wednesday.

Giovani Lo Celso, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius will also miss the clash with Scott Parker's strugglers, meaning Tanguy Ndombele is set to continue his resurgence in the Spurs midfield.

The France international scored a first-minute opener at Molineux and impressed with the kind of all-round performance that appears to have won Mourinho over.

Ndombele has yet to complete a full 90 minutes in his 11 Premier League starts, however, and the Portuguese is looking for improvement in that area.

Mourinho added: "We are happy [with him]. Apart from a couple of matches where his performances were not good, overall there was a big evolution.

"I believe to play at Premier League intensity, and to last for 90 minutes, is of course another step in the direction of his fitness.

"But he's a player who is playing very well and is giving some good things to the team.

"There are players that naturally have different qualities than others. Some players are very physical, some are very intense. Others are more explosive but they don't last for 90 minutes. Or they have difficulties lasting 90 minutes.

"In his case, he's adapting to a league that is not new, new, new for him but let's not forget last season where he didn't play much and he had lots of injuries.

"And this season I believe to play at this intensity and to give the team what it needs with and without the ball, it's not easy for him to last 90 minutes."

Spurs have slipped to seventh in the Premier League table after failing to win any of their last four games.

Jose Mourinho was again critical of Dele Alli and confirmed Gareth Bale suffered another injury setback in Tottenham's 3-1 EFL Cup quarter-final win at Stoke City.

Bale cleverly headed home a third goal of his second spell with Spurs to put them in front in a one-sided first half at the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday.

The Wales captain was then replaced by Son Heung-min at half-time, with Mourinho revealing he had asked to be withdrawn due to a calf problem.

Jordan Thompson equalised with the Championship side's first shot eight minutes into the second half, but a rasping long-range drive from Ben Davies and Harry Kane's 16th goal of the season put Spurs into the last four.

Alli, who has fallen out of favour under Mourinho, twice went close to scoring in the first half and was not impressed when Mourinho took him off after 66 minutes.

Two of Alli's three shots were well saved by a busy Andy Lonergan and he also contested a game-high 19 duels, as well as drawing more fouls (five) than any other player.

Yet Mourinho made it clear he was not happy with a flick from the attacking midfielder that did not come off before Thompson levelled from out of the blue.

"Yes, for me a player that plays in that position is a player that has to link and create and not to create problems for his own team," Mourinho said of Alli, who started in an advanced role behind Kane.

"In that situation, an objective counter-attack would probably end with a goal, and it ended with a counter-attack behind our defenders.

"We were unbalanced because when you are in possession you have full-backs out wide and another midfielder in a different line and they caught us in a counter-attack and they transformed the result of the game that was totally in our hands, so yes I am upset."

Eyebrows were raised when Bale did not return for the second half, but Mourinho said he made the change at the request of the on-loan forward.

"Yeah, it was his decision," said the Tottenham boss. "Something he felt in the last part of the first half and he didn't want to come out for the second half.

"While he was walking to the dressing room he told me immediately that he couldn't come out for the second half.

"Something I think with his calf. I'm not sure as at that time I just want to reorganise the team and make the change."

A thunderous strike from Ben Davies and Harry Kane's 16th goal of the season sealed Tottenham's place in the EFL Cup semi-final as Stoke City were consigned to a 3-1 home defeat.

Spurs dominated the first half and Gareth Bale put them ahead with a glancing header on a miserable Wednesday evening.

Bale was withdrawn at the break, leading to concerns he may have sustained another injury, and Jordan Thompson equalised with Stoke's first shot of the tie eight minutes into the second half.

Spurs were not to be denied a place in the last four, though, as Davies thumped in from distance before Kane sealed a first win in four games as Tottenham moved to within two games of winning their first trophy since 2008.

 

Gareth Bale's second Tottenham spell is still struggling to take off and it seems unlikely he will kick-start his return against defending Premier League champions Liverpool on Wednesday.

Bale rejoined Spurs on loan from Real Madrid in pre-season, having gradually fallen out of favour over the past few years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His initial move to Los Blancos from Spurs seven years earlier made Bale the world's first €100m footballer, but he is yet to show much of the ability he showcased in his previous stint in London.

Injuries and fitness problems have limited Bale to just three Premier League appearances this term, though his record of 3.9 shots and 2.3 chances created per 90 minutes is the best in the Spurs squad among players to have featured more than once.

Nevertheless, it looks doubtful he will get the opportunity to give his season the jolt it requires when leaders Spurs go to second-place Liverpool on Wednesday, with Mourinho's men hoping to open up a three-point lead over Jurgen Klopp's side.

Bale has been suffering with flu-like symptoms recently and was unable to train on Monday.

"We still have a training session," Mourinho told reporters. "Yesterday he didn't train with the team, he trained inside. At the moment I'd say no, but let's wait for feelings and the training session later."

Wednesday's clash will see Spurs face a Liverpool team that has had more than its fair share of injuries this term, though Mourinho has dismissed the idea the Reds head into the top-of-the-table contest at a disadvantage.

"Allison's not injured, Trent Alexander-Arnold is not injured, [Joel] Matip I believe is going to play, Andrew Robertson is not injured, Fabinho is not injured, [Jordan] Henderson is not injured, [Georginio] Wijnaldum is not injured, Sadio Mane isn't injured, Mohamed Salah isn't, [Roberto] Firmino isn't," Mourinho said.

"Virgil van Dijk is injured and is a very good player, of course, but give me a list of Liverpool injuries and a list of Liverpool's best team, and then I can give you a list of 10 injuries at Tottenham.

"We have two kids in the Under-16s who are injured, two in the Under-21s and then three in the Under-23s, we have [Erik] Lamela and [Japhet] Tanganga and then you have a list of 10 players.

"But is [Hugo] Lloris injured? No. Is Dier injured? No. [Toby] Alderweireld? No. Is [Sergio] Reguilon injured? No. Harry Kane? No. Son [Heung-min]? No. Lucas, no.

"So where are the injuries? There are injuries, it's normal – [James] Milner is injured, Lamela is injured. Every club has injuries now and again, they have a big injury and it's Van Dijk."

The omens are not great for Spurs, who have won just one of their previous 15 league games against the Reds, while Mourinho is yet to beat Klopp away from home in five meetings across all competitions.

However, Liverpool have already dropped 11 points in the league this term – they only let 15 points slip from their grasp in the entirety of 2019-20.

Christian Eriksen is attracting interest from Premier League clubs but the former Tottenham star reportedly only has eyes for Paris Saint-Germain.

The 28-year-old could be set to leave Inter in January following an underwhelming 12-month stint with the Serie A giants.

The Denmark international has started only 12 league matches since switching from London to Milan and a number of top European clubs are said to be circling.

TOP STORY – ERIKSEN KEEN ON PSG MOVE

Manchester United have an interest in recruiting Eriksen, who has fallen out of favour with Inter coach Antonio Conte, according to the Daily Star.

Arsenal were offered the service of the former Spurs playmaker but the Gunners have other priorities, according to the English newspaper.

Despite talk about a return to England, Eriksen is said to be planning to hold out for Ligue 1 champions PSG, who may be lining up a January swoop.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal want Stade Reims striker Boulaye Dia to solve their goalscoring issues, a report claims. Le10Sport reports the Senegal international has been identified as a Gunners target, but Everton, Marseille and Lyon are also said to be in the hunt.

- Mikel Arteta's side may also soon have another option in midfield. Spanish media outlet Marca is reporting that Atletico Madrid are planning on cutting Lucas Torreira's loan arrangement short in January after the Uruguayan failed to break into Diego Simeone's team.

Gareth Bale's future lies somewhere between Spurs and Real Madrid, according to Diario AS. The Welsh star plans to see out his contract in the Spanish capital next season if head coach Zinedine Zidane departs in the coming months. If the French coach stays, Bale may well be back in north London.

Thursday was a day to savour for Gareth Bale, as he scored his 200th career goal, 57 of which have come for Tottenham.

It was his first goal in Europe for Spurs since March 2013 against Inter and his first away from home (excluding qualifiers) since that famous hat-trick against the Nerazzurri back in October 2010.

Performances like that led Bale on the path to becoming the first €100million player, but despite his goal in the 3-3 draw with LASK, today's Bale is a very different animal.

He returned to north London on loan after being consigned to the role of wearied Real Madrid substitute under Zinedine Zidane, but his second spell in the Premier League has barely caused a ripple.

In fact, as in-form Spurs prepare for Sunday's derby with Arsenal, Bale has once more settled into the role of expensive bench-warmer, an impact player who is yet to make any discernible impact upon Jose Mourinho's plans.

LASK-LUSTRE

Bale would surely relish the chance to be unleashed against Arsenal – after all, he has scored five goals in 10 league appearances against the Gunners, and there are concerns about the fitness of Harry Kane.

However, given Mourinho's comments about his players lacking "enthusiasm" for this week's Europa League match, some of the starting XI in Austria could be fighting a losing battle to keep their places.

Bale converted Spurs' first penalty of the match to get on the scoresheet for the second time in his second stint at the club, but his was not a display to capture the imagination. While he attempted more shots than anyone else (four), his penalty was the only one to hit the target. Moreover, he created no chances for his team-mates and only completed 14 passes in his 82 minutes on the pitch, fewer than any other starting Spurs player apart from Tanguy Ndombele (12) and Lucas Moura (nine) – and they were both substituted 17 minutes earlier.

Bale has started once in the Premier League and five times in the Europa League this season and been taken off every time. While fitness was perhaps an excuse in the first few weeks after his arrival in September, surely now he should be expected to play in, and influence, a full game.

NOT-SO-SPLENDID ISOLATION

Bale always seemed like an opportune gamble rather than a signing to suit a Mourinho system, and so it has proved.

Compared with his team-mates in the Premier League, the 31-year-old has done little to justify more game time, even including his winning goal against Brighton and Hove Albion on November 1.

Bale averages close to five shots per 90 minutes, which is actually the most of any Spurs player this term, but his conversion rate of 16.7 per cent is only fifth best. Kane (18 per cent) and Son Heung-min in particular (45 per cent) are significantly more threatening from shooting positions.

His link-up play is of greater concern. In his three league games, Bale has created only two chances from open play, half as many as Giovani Lo Celso and way down on Son (11) and Kane (19). Overall, he has completed 20 passes, the fewest of any Spurs player to make a league appearance with the exception of Carlos Vinicius, who has played 12 minutes.

Bale does at least attempt three dribbles on average per 90 minutes, more than all but two of his team-mates, but he has yet to attempt a single cross from open play. If these runs with the ball do not end in a hopeful shot, they appear to yield nothing.

His level of disconnect from the rest of his team is even greater than it was at Madrid last season. In 16 LaLiga games, Bale attempted 45 open-play crosses, averaging nearly four per 90 minutes. He also attempted roughly three dribbles and nearly 36 passes per appearance.

 

SHOULD SPURS HAVE SEEN THIS COMING?

Mourinho, then, has little reason to thrust Bale into the starting line-up of a Spurs side presently looking one of the best in England's top flight and on a six-game unbeaten run in home league clashes with Arsenal. Recent history would also suggest the Wales star will not seize a more regular role heading towards 2021, either.

Only once since the 2015-16 season has Bale started more than half of all matches across all competitions (he was in the line-up 51 per cent of the time in 2018-19). That season, he made 42 appearances for Madrid; in 2019-20, that number dropped by more than half (20), while he only started 14 times, or 27.5 per cent of all games.

This term, prior to Thursday's Europa League match he started 27.8 per cent of matches and had been involved in 39 per cent overall (seven appearances), effectively the same portion as he managed last season. However, in the league, he has only played in 30 per cent of Spurs' games (three) and started just once. Even in 2019-20, as rumours of discontent with Zidane grew and images of Bale yawning among the substitutes spread, he still managed to play in 42 per cent of Madrid's league matches (16) and started 12 times (31.6 per cent).

Bale's best recent season for league games was in 2014-15, when he started 30 times (79 per cent) and made a further appearance as a substitute. He has scarcely got close to that level of involvement since. And although injury problems and issues with Zidane have been partly to blame, a fully fit Bale should realistically walk into Tottenham's team if he had the form to back up the expectations. Mourinho, at least, appears unconvinced.

A goal against Arsenal would certainly boost his prospects, but, right now, Bale looks little more than a luxury (and dispensable) accessory to a well-oiled Spurs machine.

Jose Mourinho was left with few positives to take from Tottenham's 3-3 Europa League draw with LASK, as his side scraped through to the knockout stage.

Dele Alli's late penalty seemed set to seal an undeserved win for a lacklustre Spurs, who face north London rivals Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday.

Yet Mamoudou Karamoko's superb late effort secured a share of the spoils for LASK, with Peter Michorl and Johannes Eggestein having netted for the hosts either side of Gareth Bale's 200th career goal and a Son Heung-min strike.

Tottenham had eight attempts compared to LASK's 14, with the Austrian side also having more possession (54.2 per cent) and completing a higher percentage of their passes (70.7 per cent).

A point was enough to ensure Spurs' progress from Group J, but Mourinho was far from pleased.

"Not good," he told a news conference. "The result was better than the performance. The second half better than the first half.

"Some players individually had very good performances but some players individually had very poor performances. The only good thing I take from the game is that we are qualified.

"We have qualified and we don't have the pressure on that in our last match, but we have to win our last match and I believe we will do that."

Harry Kane, who has registered nine assists and seven goals in the Premier League this season, was absent in Linz, with Mourinho confirming his star striker is receiving treatment on a minor injury.

However, having already outlined his belief that Kane will be fit to play against Arsenal this weekend, Mourinho reiterated that sentiment.

"I believe Kane is going to be fit," he said.

"He's having treatment but I could be doing some bluff and pretend he's in trouble, but he's not and I think he'll play [against Arsenal]."

Bale's 200th career goal came from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, with the Wales international lasting 82 minutes before he was replaced by Serge Aurier.

It was the 31-year-old's first away goal for Spurs in a European match since he scored a famous hat-trick against Inter in the 2010-11 Champions League.

"I took him out 10-15 minutes before the end to save the last couple of runs," Mourinho said of his decision to take Bale off.

"He has lots of positive things in his game and of course you can see that there are little bits that he has to improve."

Tottenham qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League despite Mamoudou Karamoko's superb late leveller earning LASK a 3-3 draw.

It looked as though Dele Alli's penalty would seal a scarcely deserved three points for Spurs to send them into Sunday's north London derby on the back of a win.

But fellow substitute Karamoko had other ideas and sent a fine strike beyond Joe Hart from 20 yards to make sure the spoils were shared in a strange but memorable Group J clash.

Jose Mourinho made eight changes from the 0-0 draw against Chelsea with an eye on the visit of Arsenal, with Harry Kane a notable absentee as the Premier League leaders toiled to a draw in Linz.

Spurs beat LASK 3-0 in the reverse fixture in October but were more laboured on Thursday, struggling to find their rhythm and falling behind to Peter Michorl's excellent 42nd-minute opener.

However, Gareth Bale levelled from the spot with the last kick of the half and Son Heung-min put Spurs ahead early in the second half.

Johannes Eggestein levelled with six minutes remaining but there was still time for substitute Alli to make his mark from 12 yards after Steven Bergwijn was brought down by Philipp Wiesinger.

Remarkably, that was not the end of it and Karamoko fired home in the dying moments to make it 3-3.

Gareth Bale scored his 200th career goal on Thursday after he netted for Tottenham in their Europa League clash with LASK.

Wales international Bale had been stuck on 199 goals for club and country since he scored for Spurs in their 2-1 Premier League win over Brighton at the start of November.

He went close to reaching the milestone during Tottenham's 4-0 win over Ludogorets in the Europa League on November 26, but hit his 200th goal in Spurs' next European outing.

Bale's landmark strike – his first away goal for Spurs in Europe since he scored a hat-trick at the San Siro against Inter in 2010 – came from the penalty spot, Bale restoring parity after Peter Michorl had put LASK ahead.

The 31-year-old scored the first of 167 club goals for Southampton against Derby County in August 2006, while his maiden strike for Wales came in October of the same year against Slovakia.

Bale rejoined Spurs on a season-long loan deal from LaLiga side Real Madrid in September having played for the club between 2007 and 2013.

Gareth Bale has been backed to rediscover his best form at Tottenham by team-mate Ben Davies after Spurs boss Jose Mourinho conceded the forward is lacking in confidence.

The Wales international has one goal and no assists in seven appearances - five of those being starts - since returning to Tottenham on loan from Real Madrid in September.

He has played less than two hours of Premier League football this term and has been an unused substitute in Spurs' last two top-flight outings.

Mourinho is expected to hand Bale his fifth Europa League start in Thursday's trip to LASK and is hopeful the one-time world's most expensive player can continue his "physical evolution".

"The only problem with Gareth is to get into the dynamic and the confidence of playing consecutive matches without any bad feeling or negative feeling," he said at Wednesday's pre-match news conference.

"He must do that without any remembrance of the recent past when the condition was not the best and the fears were there. 

"But now he has the chance of a physical evolution. He doesn't need a tactical or a technical evolution. 

"He just needs to get his confidence back about playing three matches in a week. It's more about that [than anything else]."

Bale has had six shots in his three league outings this term at an average of 4.66 per 90 minutes - the most of any Tottenham player to have featured at least twice, with Harry Kane (3.93) next on the list.

He also ranks highly for dribbles completed, his figure of 1.55 per 90 minutes bettered only by Erik Lamela (2.87) and Tanguy Ndombele (2.94).

But the Southampton academy product has lost possession 17.84 times on average across those games, which is behind only Sergio Reguilon (19) and Giovani Lo Celso (21.45).

However, with Bale having assisted a couple of goals for Wales in last month's Nations League wins over Republic of Ireland and Finland, Davies insisted his international colleague's quality cannot be questioned.

"I think Gareth's an amazing player," Davies told reporters. "He doesn't need to prove anything to anyone - he's shown what he can do over the years. He's got the quality there and I'm sure it will shine through at Spurs this year.

"I feel like I always saw him at his best when he was with Wales so I haven't seen too much difference in him personally. But if you listen to the way people speak and how happy he is here, it is evident to see every day.

"He is buzzing around the place and playing, not playing, he is supportive of the guys and having someone of his presence and the history of winning stuff like he has got, lifts everyone here."

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