Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas described Wednesday’s trip to Chelsea as a “massive, massive game” after Gareth Bale’s late winner against Southampton kept his side in with a strong chance of Champions League qualification.

Villas-Boas, the man Chelsea sacked last season after just a few months in charge, will be hoping Manchester United can do him a favour on Sunday by beating the Europa League finalists.

If that were to happen, both sides would begin Wednesday’s game at Stamford Bridge level on 65 points, although fourth-place Chelsea’s goal difference is superior. Arsenal, who won 1-0 at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, are third, two points ahead, but having played a game more.

“We are still in a great position, but it’s extremely difficult,” Villas-Boas said.

“We have a great week ahead of us with two away games, that are decisive to keep us in the frame. Everything is in our hands and we hope to make that final push.

“The game against Chelsea will be a massive, massive game for us. Obviously it depends on whatever Arsenal and Chelsea do with their remaining fixtures, but at the moment we are still in with a shout and destiny is in our own hands.”

Southampton had been on course to come away from White Hart Lane with a deserved point on Saturday until their former player Bale won it for the home side in the 86th minute.

The Wales international cut in from the right, out-paced Luke Shaw and beat goalkeeper Artur Boruc with a low drive from outside the penalty area.

“In the first half, we weren’t at our level and I am the first to recognise that we probably deserved to be 1-0 down,” Villas-Boas added.

“The second was a bit different and in the end we got what we deserved for what we did in the second half.

“We showed great spirit and I don’t have to remind you that Southampton have won against all of the big teams apart from Manchester United.

“But at Old Trafford they had a similar game to the one they had here, where they had the most amount of chances and played really good football. Today we managed to get a result. It was always about winning, to keep us in the frame, and we managed to achieve it.”

Southampton had kept Bale quiet for much of the game and the double Player of the Year was switched from an initial roaming role up front to first the left, and then the right flank.

“He had a difficult game at the beginning,” Villas-Boas conceded.

“He couldn’t find the spaces to receive the ball. We weren’t passing the ball properly, we were trying a lot of long balls and our game wasn’t going our way.

“In the second half we managed to find him a little bit better, on the left and on the right when we changed it, and it was the only moment when Southampton left him, that split-second.”

Southampton remain marooned on 39 points and as a result are not yet safe from relegation, but manager Mauricio Pochettino is confident that will soon change.

“We have to win our next game, against Sunderland next weekend,” he said. “I am an optimist, especially the way my team played today. I am not scared.”

Pochettino also heralded Bale, saying: “When a team has a player of those characteristics, they can light up those moments, and there is nothing you can do against that.

“Bale is one of the top 10 players in the world today, although he is not yet at the level of (Lionel) Messi or (Diego) Maradona. But he could play for any side in the world, in any league in the world. Perhaps I made a mistake when I said Tottenham were not a one-man team.”

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