Bale sat out the Europa League play-off first leg as he edged closer to a world-record move to Real Madrid, although the club announced that he was out with a foot injury.
Tottenham, often branded a one-man team after Bale's heroics last term, showed it might not need the Welshman as Townsend put on an impressive display topped by his superb opener.
Paulinho and Danny Rose also scored with Roberto Soldado on target twice.
Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas showered praise on Townsend.
"Andros has been working well in training, so we felt it was time to give him an opportunity and he did very well," the Tottenham manager said.
"If we have the type of performance we had to today (from him) we can always count him."
Swansea City, the other English Premier League side in action, swept aside Romanian cup holder Petrolul Ploiesti 5-1 at the Liberty Stadium.
Wayne Routledge grabbed a first-half double with Michu also on the scoresheet to give Michael Laudrup's side a 3-0 half-time lead.
An own goal from Petrolul goalkeeper Pecanha and a classy finish from Alejandro Pozuelo increased its advantage, before Gheorghe Grozav got a late consolation for the visiting side.
Sevilla crushed Slask Wroclaw of Poland 4-1 in an easy victory on home soil with Marko Marin on target twice. Ivan Rakitic and Kevin Gameiro also found the net.
Jorge Molina and Cedric fired the goals as Spanish club Real Betis beat Czech team Jablonec 2-1 - however, Betis had to graft until the 87th minute for their winner after Jan Kopic equalised for Jablonec.
Fiorentina resisted a fightback from Grasshoppers of Switzerland to prevail 2-1. Juan Cuadrado and Mario Gomez gave the Serie A club a 2-0 lead before Anat Ngamukol pulled one back for the host side.
Senegal forward Ibrahima Balde struck in the 61st minute to give Kuban a 1-0 home triumph over Dutch giant Feyenoord.
Another Dutch club, AZ Alkmaar, fared better with a 3-1 win against Greece's Atromitos, Johann Gudmundsson finishing with two goals.
Big spending Rubin Kazan defeated Norwegian minnow Molde 2-0 with Venezuela's Jose Rondon scoring twice.
German midfielder Alexander Meier was another player to finish with a brace as Frankfurt swept aside Azerbaijan's Qarabag.
There was misery for Stuttgart as it went down 2-1 to Rijeka, Vedad Ibisevic's late strike at least giving them an away goal.
Apollon's Italian striker Gaston Sangoy fired the Cypriot club to a surprise 2-0 victory over Nice.
There were wins for Dynamo Kyiv, Maccabi Haifa, Standard Liege, Salzburg, Saint-Etienne, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, Trabzonspor, Genk, Tromso, Braga.
Chornomorets Odesa, Partizan, Slovan Liberec, Rapid Vienna and Estoril Praia were also victorious after the first leg.
Of the 30 games played - Maccabi Tel Aviv's clash with PAOK was cancelled - there were only four draws.
St Gallen's match against Spartak Moscow, Elfsborg's showdown with Nordsjaelland, Vojvodina against Sheriff and Zulte Waregem's clash with APOEL finished level.