A hat-trick by Gareth Bale maintains Tottenham Hotspurs Champions League hopes after a comfortable 4-0 victory over Sheffield United this evening.
The Welshman fired Spurs in front as he poked the ball past Aaron Ramsdale after a delightful chip over the defence by Serge Aurier.
Bale extended Spurs’ advantage with a thunderous strike, and shortly after, he grabbed his hat-trick. Heung-Min Son also chipped in with a fantastic curling effort, after he previously had a goal disallowed for offside earlier.
Story of the game
Many would be forgiven if they completely forgot about a Premier League game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this evening after the country was fixed on the events at Old Trafford as thousands protested, which subsequently saw the Manchester United vs Liverpool game postponed.
However, there was a game, and in Spurs’ mind, an important one as they continue to hunt for a slim chance of Champions League football next season.
Ryan Mason made two changes to the side that lost against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final last weekend, with Dele Alli and Bale coming in for Harry Winks and Lucas Moura. Harry Kane made his return to the Premier League squad after missing the previous fixture against Southampton.
Spurs marksman had his first sniff at goal within the opening two minutes as a delightful cross by Son picked out Kane in the box, but his first-time effort was saved before the offside flag was raised.
Shortly after, Kane became provider with a first time ball down the right sent Bale on his travels. The Welshman cut onto his left foot but skied his shot. Spurs began to increase the pressure, with a combination of Ramsdale producing a fantastic save against Son before Kane saw an attempt cleared off the line.
As the game reached half an hour mark, Spurs were unsurprisingly on top but just couldn’t break the deadlock at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, while Rhian Brewster saw an effort from the edge of the box swerve to the corner flag, summing up the Blades’ record signing without a single Premier League goal this season.
Then, it was a moment of magic to finally breakdown the Blades defence. No, not by Kane or Son, but Aurier as he chipped a perfect pass over the top, and Bale ran on to poke it over Ramsdale to give Spurs a well-deserved lead, scoring his seventh goal in the Premier League.
Dele, who started in only his third Premier League game this season, had his first sighting of goal on the stroke of half time, but it went straight into the keeper’s arms.
Sheffield United’s Interim manager Paul Heckingbottom made two changes at the break, with Sander Berge and Oliver Burke replacing Jayden Bogle and Brewster in hope of turning the game into the visitors' favour.
However, that nearly came undone within just one minute of the second half as John Fleck was very lucky not to be sent off after catching Giovanni Lo Celso in the head with his boot.
Son thought he had doubled Spurs’ lead in the 50th minute after a classic Toby Alderweireld ball over the top to the attacker and he fired home, but VAR decided the South Korean was offside in the smallest of margins. Sheffield United had significantly improved, seeing more of the ball but failed to test Hugo Lloris.
Yet, that was quickly put to bed after a thrilling counter-attack by Spurs that saw Son skip one challenge before he sent Bale clear through on goal, and the Welshman made no mistake with a thunderous strike past Ramsdale.
Lloris was called into his first save just after the hour mark, but the Frenchman was untested as Oliver Norwood’s strike went straight into his hands.
Two quickly became three for Bale in the 69th minute, his first hat-trick since returning to Spurs in September. Aurier did brilliantly again, cutting inside before sliding in Bale, who shifted the ball onto his left foot and buried his shot for the hat-trick.
After having a goal marginally disallowed earlier, Son finally grabbed his 21st goal of the season, and it was a beauty.
The newly-introduced Steven Bergwijn slipped in the South Korean on the edge of the box and curled an effort past Ramsdale via the far post.
Despite being four-nil down, Sheffield United continue to pile pressure on Spurs’ defence, forcing a few corners, but just couldn’t test Lloris, and that has been the familiar story throughout the season.
Sergio Reguilon could, and should, have added a fifth goal right at the death as Kane played the Spaniard through on goal, but he somehow failed to hit the target.
However, that didn’t affect the result, with the individual brilliance of Bale helping Spurs to a comfortable victory over Sheffield United, closing the gap on Chelsea to five points.
Man of the match
Only one man deserves the award, and that's Bale.
After being unfairly dropped for Carabao Cup final, the Welshman showed why he's still touted as one of the best forwards in the world, even if he didn't have a brilliantly game aside the three goals.
Aurier also deserves a mention, setting up two of the three goals for Bale and formed a lethal partnership with Bale on the right-hand side.