The result takes Spurs above Chelsea into third place in the Premier League.
Welsh winger Bale put the visitors ahead in the 13th minute with a precise finish before Andy Carroll converted a penalty to send the two London sides in level at the break.
Here, Sports Mole casts its eye over an engrossing 90 minutes at Upton Park.
On target 6
On target 16
Was the result fair?
On another day Spurs would have had the match won way before Bale's late stunner and, as you can see from the stats above, the visitors had plenty of attempts on target. Therefore, you'd have to say that Spurs did deserve the three points but West Ham had good periods of play will feel very hollow not to have claimed a point.
West Ham's performance
The Hammers went behind early but responded well and deservedly went in level at the break. They began the second half on top and soon turned the match on its head when Cole beat the offside trap to score. Sam Allardyce's side could have in fact gone 3-1 ahead when first-half substitute Matt Taylor had a one-on-one opportunity but was denied by the face of Hugo Lloris. The hosts defended sloppily for Spurs equaliser but could do little about the sublime winner.
Andre Villas-Boas's side looked extremely dangerous from set pieces throughout and but for Jussi Jaaskelainen's outstanding performance they could have had plenty more goals than three. Defensively, the centre-half duo of Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker dealt with the might of Andy Carroll for much of the game. Jan Vertonghen was sloppy for Cole's goal and from then on it was a tough ask for the visitors. However, they managed to steal the win and owe it all to their superstar left winger.
Sports Mole's man of the match
Jussi Jaaskelainen: Many will give it to Bale for his two goals but I'm not overlooking the performance of the West Ham stopper, who was making his 500th league start in England. He kept out Spurs on several occasions with a host of diving saves and also looked extremely composed when claiming balls in the air. Unfortunately for the Finn, he could do absolutely nothing about Bale's winner.
Moments before Cole put West Ham ahead Emmanuel Adebayor had a golden chance to restore Spurs lead but he somehow headed straight at Jaaskelainen with at least half of the goal to aim at from a few yards.
Howard Webb correctly awarded West Ham a penalty for Scott Parker's lunge on Carroll and had a solid game all round. Allardyce said in his post-match interview to Sky Sports News that Moussa Dembele should have received a second yellow after hauling down Mohamed Diame and then kicking the ball away but that would have been harsh.
West Ham: Next up for the Hammers is a tough trip to Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.
Spurs: Sunday is a huge day in North London as Spurs meet Arsenal at White Hart Lane in a key battle in the race for the top four.