SUNDAY 2ND MAY, 2021
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(1) SHEFFIELD UNITED 0(0)
Bale, 36, 61, 69
Referee:- Andre Marriner
Assistants: Scott Ledger, Simon Long
Fourth official:- Kevin Friend
VAR:- Peter Bankes
Assistant VAR:- James Mainwaring.
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Lo Celso (sub Winks, 70); Bale (sub Bergwijn, 75), Dele (sub Lamela, 78), Son; Kane
Subs not used:- Hart; Doherty, Sanchez; Sissoko, Ndombele; Lucas Moura
Booked:- Hojbjerg (foul on Fleck)
Sheffield United (3-4-1-2):- Ramsdale; Baldock, Egan (Capt.), Basham; Bogle (sub Berge, 46), Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; Osborn; McGoldrick (sub Mousset, 83), Brewster (sub Burke, 46)
Subs not used:- Foderingham; Jagielka, Gordon, Lowe, Robinson; Lundstram
Booked:- Egan (foul on Son)
Bale to the fore with a super hat-trick!
In his programme notes Spurs Interim coach Ryan Mason asked his players to be brave and to play on the front foot. The players did that from the start really, with some high pressing with little early reward. Ryan had returned Gareth Bale to the starting line-up, having omitted him from last week's Carabao Cup Final. The coach also gave Dele Alli only his third Premier League start of the season, but the man who stole the show was Bale, who scored his first Premier League hat-trick since Boxing Day 2012. That was a 4-0 win too, away to Aston Villa.
THFC would not allow me the fly the Spurs Odyssey flag in the stadium for these behind closed doors games but it will feature in my match report!
The big football headline of the day related to the postponement of the Manchester United v Liverpool match following a protest and trespass into the “Theatre of Dreams” by hundreds of United “fans”, if indeed they were fans. They were protesting against the club’s owners, after the ESL debacle nearly two weeks ago. Players and officials of both teams were holed up in their hotels and I understand Police Officers were injured on Matt Busby Way. There was no such protest in Tottenham, and football was the big story here.
Dele Alli was sporting natty dreadlocks with a headband, and played his part in some of Spurs’ short, sharp passing moves and high pressing which ultimately bore fruit. Hugo Lloris didn’t have a save to make until the second half, and then it was “The Blades” only shot on target all game.
United kicked off playing towards the South Stand, and after they failed to play out from the back, after only one minute, Son fed the ball to Kane, who was offside anyway, but his shot was saved. Reguilon made plenty of advances and so nearly reached a ball lifted into the area by Giovani Lo Celso. The ball ran to Ramsdale.
“The Blades”’ top scorer, David McGoldrick had a chance after 6 minutes, following a poor ball from Dier, intended but overhit to Hojbjerg. McGoldrick moved forward with the ball but hit his shot wide. Generally, Spurs were pressing high whilst United got back in numbers. Referee Andre Marriner was letting play flow, and sometimes lenient with his decisions, which worked for and against Spurs at times.
Lo Celso and Dele combined towards the left of the area, before the ball was passed to Kane whose cross/shot from the right was deflected and went for a corner. Kane was involved in our next move which followed a United attack. Spurs broke out and from inside his half, Harry sent Bale away with a great ball. Bale came inside but hit his shot over the target from 20 yards.
Dele got on the end of a long ball by Alderweireld, but his looping header was easy for Ramsdale. Serge Aurier had a good game tonight, with assists for two of Bale’s goals, and after 15 minutes he won the ball in the last third before passing to Son out on the left. Son hit a left-footed shot which Ramsdale saved at the expense of another corner. Subsequently Son fed Kane with a short pass to his left and Kane’s shot across goal was cleared in front of the back post by Basham, returning after a 6-week absence. “Blades” captain John Egan was booked for a challenge upon Son as he made that pass to Kane.
Son needed treatment but he was soon back on and very nearly reached a lifted pass by Hojbjerg into the area. After 25 minutes Son received Dier’s long pass down the left channel, and fed this to Reguilon to his left. “Reggie” hit a low cross to Kane but Harry hit a poor left-footed shot well over his target. Ramsdale went down for treatment to his foot, but was able to resume.
Sheffield United were now getting forward more, but they presented few problems to the Spurs defence, and certainly not Hugo Lloris. Lo Celso passed to Kane whose cross from the right failed, but after this came out Aurier hit a ball over the top of the defence from a central position and Bale scored with a shot clipped over the goalkeeper.
Dele showed strength and skill in the middle before passing to Son, who was fouled 25 yards out. Harry Kane wanted this free kick, but hit the wall, and hit his follow-up shot wide. Lo Celso lifted a shot over the target after receiving Son’s pass from his left as half-time approached. In added time after a nice short-passing interchange featuring Kane, Son and Dele, Dele hit a right footed curler which was comfortably saved by Ramsdale towards his left post.
“The Blades”’ interim coach Paul Heckingbottom made a double change after the break bringing on Sander Berge and Ollie Burke for Bogle and Brewster. Berge had been injured in December, and this was his first game back in action. The two players certainly added energy to United who offered more threat to the Spurs defence before Bale put us further into the lead.
Soon after the re-start Lo Celso was writhing in genuine pain on the floor after a challenge by Fleck who raked Gio’s face with his studs as his foot came down. The referee and VAR deemed this purely accidental, and there was no sanction. Lo Celso was visibly marked and did resume, but when substituted wore a heavy ice-pack around his face.
It looked as if Spurs had increased their lead after 51 minutes when Son raced onto a long ball by Alderweireld before advancing upon goal and “scoring” with his right foot. The dreaded VAR lines decreed “Sonny” had been marginally offside. Aurier stretched to win a ball in the United half before passing to Bale who hit a shot from 25 yards which Ramsdale saved comfortably.
Spurs did go two up with a good goal after they broke out from a defensive position. Son did well to gain control of the ball before passing inside to Bale who was still in the Spurs half when the pass was made. Gareth moved forward and made no mistake from 16 yards. This was his 50th Premier League goal – all for Spurs, of course!
Lloris’s one and only save was required after 64 minutes when Burke crossed from the right; Fleck dummied, and Norwood hit a right footed shot straight at Hugo. Reguilon was fouled by his opposite number three (Stevens) just outside the Sheffield United area. Naturally, Bale wanted and took this free kick, but it was easy for Ramsdale. Gareth got his hat-trick after a forward pass by Dele to Aurier, who laid up a lovely pass allowing Gareth to score with a fine 20-yard finish.
Ryan Mason started to introduce his subs and first on was Harry Winks for Lo Celso. “The Blades” understandably lost a bit of heart now and had a damage limitation exercise, although of course their relegation had been confirmed two weeks ago. Spurs had a corner on the right met by a near post flick (with his foot) by Toby Alderweireld which was saved at his right post by Ramsdale.
Bergwijn replaced the hat-trick hero, and after Dele won a ball in the United half before feeding it forward Bergwijn passed from right to left to Son who scored the fourth goal with a right-foot shot inside Ramsdale’s left post. In added time Harry Kane teed up Reguilon who had a good chance to score his first Spurs goal, but he missed outside Ramsdale’s right-hand post.
Because Liverpool didn’t play, and with West Ham playing tomorrow night, Spurs moved up to fifth place with four more “Cup Finals” to play.
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