LONDON- It was a night when West Ham got the neighbours round to toast the memory of their favourite son - and no East End knees-up is complete until you've rolled out the Bale.
Tottenham did just that, taking three points back to North London and easing past Chelsea into third. They will be seven clear of fifth-placed Arsenal if they beat the Gunners at White Hart Lane on Sunday, with 10 games to play.
Andre Villas-Boas is closing in on the Champions League. Spurs have lost only twice in 21 games in all competitions since they were beaten at the Emirates in November and, with Gareth Bale in a patch of deep purple, it is hard to see them grinding to a sudden halt
Bale claimed the first and the fifth goals in a pulsating derby at Upton Park and has now scored eight in his last six Spurs games. Each time he plays he influences the result and he learns more about his new free role, utilising the spaces to cause destruction.
He even had a hand in Tottenham's second, delivering the free-kick which sparked an untidy scramble and enabled substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson to equalise at 2-2 after West Ham had stolen ahead through an Andy Carroll penalty and a goal by Joe Cole.
It was the winner, however, which provided an astonishing illustration of his ability and his supreme confidence and it came as the clock ticked through its final few seconds before 90 minutes.
He collected the ball in a central position and charged forward, straight down the centre of the pitch until sent spinning to the turf by Joey O'Brien.
With Tottenham still in possession, referee Howard Webb waved play on, so the Wales star climbed to his feet and demanded the ball back.
When it came, he turned and unleashed a 25-yard strike which exploded from his left boot and swerved and wobbled its way into the top corner of the net