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Bale hits hat trick as Tottenham routs Villa 4-0

(AP Photo/PA, David Davies)

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Gareth Bale scored his first Premier League hat trick as Tottenham routed Aston Villa 4-0 on Wednesday to climb into the Champions League qualification places.

Jermain Defoe put Tottenham ahead in the 57th minute before Bale netted his goals in 23 minutes.

Tottenham moved into fourth place ahead of Everton and West Bromwich Albion on goal difference and two points behind Chelsea.

Tottenham's goal spree heaped further misery on Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who conceded eight at Chelsea on Sunday.

Villa is just three points above the drop zone in 16th place.

After being run completely ragged at Stamford Bridge, Villa was under heavy pressure from the start against Spurs, who went close in the 11th minute when Bale saw a curling effort from outside the box kept out by a fine diving save from Guzan.

The hosts almost paid for giving the ball away as Tottenham broke forward and Aaron Lennon flashed a cross into the danger zone, which Chris Herd hacked behind for a corner.

Defoe headed the resulting delivery into Guzan's arms and the American goalkeeper then came out to deny the same player.

Spurs were winning a seemingly endless succession of corners and it appeared to be only a matter of time before they broke the deadlock.

But Emmanuel Adebayor nodded a corner at Guzan and had a strike blocked by Nathan Baker, while an effort from Bale before half time was batted away by the goalkeeper.

Tottenham's breakthrough came in the 57th when Defoe stabbed the ball in through Guzan's legs having latched on to Kyle Naughton's through ball.

Four minutes later Tottenham doubled its lead, taking advantage of some sloppy play by Villa.

Christian Benteke's cross was cut out to launch a Tottenham counterattack that Villa could not halt. Bennett's tackle sent the ball to Bale, who advanced forward, rounded Guzan and prodded home.

Bale's second came after collecting Lennon's pass in the box and slotting the ball into the corner.

The Wales winger completed his treble in the 84th, sending the ball into the roof of the net from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson's pass.

Updated December 26, 2012

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