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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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Bale hits out at latest 'diving' card

An irate Gareth Bale feels he was "booked for no reason" after referee Martin Atkinson gave him a yellow card for diving in Tottenham's 2-1 win at Sunderland.

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Bale will now miss the New Year's Day game against Reading at White Hart Lane after picking up his fifth booking of the season, with three of those handed out for simulation in Premier League games. He has been booked five times for diving since the start of last season - three more than any other player.

Bale went to ground following a challenge from Sunderland midfielder Craig Gardner.

"It's the same thing every time," Bale told Sky Sports. "That's the third time this season that I've been clipped and I've got booked for no reason. There is nothing I can do about it. The referees just have to look a bit closer I think. It's not something I'm doing because people think I am diving when there is actually contact.

"At the end of the day, if I'm getting contact, it's a penalty or a free-kick. If people are kicking me, I'm not going to stop going over.

"It doesn't bother me. People can keep saying what they want, but it's a foul. I know that myself."

After the match, manager Andre Villas-Boas said: "It's difficult for the referees, there's no question about it, but today was a big mistake.

"Sometimes we have to give a little bit of comfort and credit to the player because he is being chased now and it's a little bit unfair what he is going through, particularly because he misses a game when he was going to be the clear-out for the yellow cards.

"It's just a consequence of his pace, his ability his skill. People don't want to stop him in various different ways, sometimes they do it in a proper way, sometimes they have to foul. I think he understands, as I was saying, that it's difficult for the refs to judge, but today was a mistake and the team is penalised for the game against Reading.''

Former Tottenham coach Clive Allen leapt to the defence of Bale and claimed the speed the winger is travelling at means he does not need much contact to be sent tumbling.

"I felt Gareth was very, very unfortunate on this occasion," Allen said. "There was contact from Gardner's right knee and his right arm goes across his chest. It stopped a goalscoring situation. The referee couldn't see the right arm come across Gareth and it should have been a penalty.

"When Gareth goes past defenders, there is only one way to stop him and that is to step across him or try to impede him in some way. He gave Gardner so many problems and the booking he received was very unfortunate."

Bale had a meeting with referee Andre Marriner at Tottenham's training ground earlier this month as he aims to rid himself of the diving tag.

Opposite number Martin O'Neill had no complaints about the result despite seeing his side take the lead. He said: "We played with a lot of commitment and a lot of heart. We got ourselves in front just before half-time and it was obviously disappointing to concede two goals within two minutes.

"It knocked us back and while we were trying to press, Tottenham obviously had chances to make it three, but right until the end, we kept going, so I couldn't fault the commitment of the team at all.''

Meanwhile, Villas-Boas confirmed that defender Danny Rose is likely to remain at Sunderland on loan for the remainder of the season, but that a permanent transfer is out of the question.

He said: "Permanent is completely impossible because we have big expectations for the player for the future, but there is a high possibility that his loan spell will continue.''

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