TOTTENHAM

Tottenham: Bale admits to rustiness after unwanted four-year first

After starting in Tottenham's comfortable Europa League win over LASK on Thursday, Gareth Bale reflected on his second full debut for Spurs.

Bale admits to rustiness after recording unwanted four-year first in Tottenham triumph

Gareth Bale said he is still working his way back to match fitness after struggling to make an impact in Tottenham's Europa League victory over LASK.

Bale forces own goal but struggles to make overall impact

Bale made his second full debut for Tottenham after leaving Spurs for Real Madrid in 2013 and the 31-year-old loanee played a role in the second goal of Thursday's 3-0 win.

A second-half substitute against West Ham in the Premier League over the weekend, Bale forced an own goal in the 28th minute but the Welshman recorded an unwanted four-year first.

It was the first time Bale started a club match and not had either a shot or create chance for his team-mates since November 2016 for Madrid – his 78th start since then, per Opta.

Tottenham man hopes to "get back up to full speed" soon

"We know these games are important. We went out there and did a great job. It wasn't our best performance but we were solid and most important is the three points," Bale told BT Sport as he reflected on the Group J match and his performance.

"I am a bit stiff. It is like a mini pre-season for me and I am trying to get minutes into the legs.

"Hopefully it won't take me long to get back up to full speed and I am enjoying being on the pitch and being back at this amazing club."

Tottenham have won 11 of their last 12 home Europa League group-stage fixtures, drawing once.

Spurs have also scored 31 goals in all competitions this season – five more than any other Premier League side.

"Amazing" to be back at Spurs, says Bale

On being back at Tottenham, Bale – who struggled for game time at LaLiga giants Madrid in recent years – added: "It is amazing. It is a big reason why I play well and why I came back. You want to be loved and appreciated. I will give everything for this shirt.

"This is a great squad that has a lot of depth, hopefully we can use that to our advantage. It is always good to have competition to keep you on your toes."