Gareth Bale had a brilliant hat trick as Tottenham rocked their Carabao Cup final misery and kept their Champions League hopes alive with a 4-0 win over relegated Sheffield United.
Bale’s first game in the 36th minute, a beautiful instinctive shot from close range, was little reward for Spurs’ dominance in the first half, but although Heung-Min Son saw an effort after the break (52) ruled out for offside, the Welshman hit twice as much. legitimately and categorically shortly thereafter.
Bale scored his 50th Premier League goal shortly after the hour after being set up by Son on a Spurs breakaway and punching a fierce third without breaking his stride (69) before leaving to warm applause, although only from the home bench.
The Blades, for whom John Fleck escaped punishment after a VAR exam after catching Giovani Lo Celso in the lead, had gained momentum twice before conceding, but Bale’s third goal ended their fleeting resistance and Son finished the rout with a brilliant curly finish at 13 minutes.
Tottenham move up to fifth place – at least for now, having played one more game than West Ham, Liverpool and Everton behind them – but remain five points behind Chelsea with just four games to go.
How the brilliant Bale kept Spurs in the chase’s top four
Looking for a mood-boosting victory after unrest over their role in the European Super League, further speculation over Harry Kane’s future and a Carabao Cup mayhem that delivered paltry 0.06 in expected goals, Spurs dominated from the start, albeit against much lower opposition. .
A moment of early hesitation between Aaron Ramsdale and George Baldock nearly cost the Blades with Sergio Reguilon in hiding, but Spurs patiently built as Dele Alli – only making his third Premier League start – drifted between zones central and left flank.
- Tottenham made two changes from the defeated squad in the Carabao Cup final, with Dele Alli and Gareth Bale replacing Harry Winks and Lucas Moura.
- Sheff utd were able to recall Chris Basham to their backline, while Sander Berge was included as a substitute after a lengthy injury layoff.
Kane’s round ball fizzed in Bale should have brought a reward, with the Welshman shooting high above, and after Son drew a strong right hand from Ramsdale, Chris Basham had to leave his line to turn Kane away.
Kane had swelled again and threw a free-kick chance into Sheffield United’s shins, but despite the storm the visitors were unable to make rare forays forward. David McGoldrick’s withdrawal from a danger zone was directly on Hugo Lloris and Rhian Brewster – still to be scored for the Blades – was high and wide.
They were punished soon after when Bale stretched out to gracefully lift a chipped ball in his way by Aurier, the late but inevitable breakthrough.
Fleck was recovered after the interval after leaving Lo Celso with a cut that left him with ice attached to his head, the moment deemed accidental, but the momentum that the Blades appeared to have struggled with thanks to substitutions from Oli Burke and Sander Berge was short lived. .
Although Son was narrowly ruled offside by the long ball in front of Toby Alderweireld (52), he quickly challenged Ben Osborn from a corner of the Blades pushed back before setting up Bale, who didn’t. gave Ramsdale no chance with a powerful finish.
Aurier returned to supplier eight minutes later, cutting on the inside after recovering Alli’s slide rule pass, and giving Bale a first low finish.
It stifled any lingering threat from Sheffield United and Son got the goal his busy performance deserved when Steven Bergwijn – in Bale’s place – pushed him to find the farthest top corner.
Kane, lively but wasteful, was denied by Ramsdale on death but the damage was long done, with Spurs gaining a timely boost and the Blades well beaten as the final whistle of a torturous season drew happily closer. .
Opta stats: Bale, Son joy; Heckingbottom misfortune
- Spurs have won five of their last six home games in the Premier League (L1), one more than they have managed in their first 11 games at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this season (W4 D3 L4). Indeed, only Man City (8) have won more top home games in 2021 than Spurs (6).
- Sheffield United have lost 27 of their 34 Premier League games this season (W5 D2), now the same number that 20th-place Norwich City suffered last season, when it is now the most the Blades have ever lost in only one Football League campaign in their history.
- Sheffield United have collected just four points out of a possible 51 available away this season, losing 15 of their 17 such games (W1 D1). Last season, the Blades gained more points in their first three away games (5), losing just six times on their league trips (W4 D9 L6).
- Ryan Mason is Tottenham’s third consecutive manager to win their first two Premier League games after José Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino, Tim Sherwood, the latest boss not to do so for the club.
- Gareth Bale’s nine Premier League goals this season have come at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the most goals by a player, with 100% coming from a single venue in the 2020-2021 competition.
- Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min (16 goals, 10 assists) has joined Harry Kane and Bruno Fernandes as one of three Premier League players to score and assist more than 10 Premier League goals this season, along with Kane and Son the first pair of teammates to do so in the same season since Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané for Manchester City in 2018/19.
- Gareth Bale scored the seventh treble of his club career, including three at Tottenham Hotspur (four for Real Madrid). Welsh’s other hat-trick for Spurs came against Aston Villa in December 2012 in the Premier League, and in October 2010 against Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League.
- Paul Heckingbottom has seen his Sheffield United side concede 15 goals in his six Premier League games in charge – in the history of the competition only three other managers – Terry Connor, Billy Davies and Nigel Adkins (all 5) – saw their teams score more than 15 goals. in fewer games than the Yorkshireman.
Tottenham will travel to Leeds on Saturday 8 May for a 12:30 p.m. kick-off, while Sheffield United will host Crystal Palace on the same day (3 p.m. kick-off). This match is live Sky Sports Premier League.