Sheff Utd 1 Tottenham 3: Spurs jump to fourth in Premier League as Blades edge closer to relegation with another lossJanuary 17, 2021
SEE what magic you can conjure if you don’t ease up, Jose?
Tottenham, for once, did not sit on a half-time lead and were rewarded with a moment of genius by Tanguy Ndombele.
Serge Aurier and Harry Kane had put Jose Mourinho’s men 2-0 up at the break.
And no matter what the ex-Chelsea and Manchester United chief may claim, that is normally the time his side put on the handbrake and try to see it out.
That pragmatic approach has seen them drop a crucial TEN points after throwing away leads at the break this term.
But in this game, despite conceding a 58th-minute header to David McGoldrick, they could not be accused of winding down.
It led to Ndombele brilliantly chipping keeper Aaron Ramsdale from an extremely acute angle for one of the best goals you are likely to see this season.
Mourinho protested ahead of kick-off that he does NOT order his players to sit on leads.
Pressed on what he does tell his team at half-time, the Tottenham chief replied: “Play attacking football, be dominant, kill matches, don’t accept the (other side’s) dominancy… do you believe me?”
Honestly? Not really, Jose. Not based on what your side appeared to do exactly that against Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Wolves and, most recently, Fulham.
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But in fairness there was no sign of it here. Not that Sheffield United looked incapable of clawing back a two-goal lead, anyway.
Amazingly, Spurs had not won a league game at Bramall Lane for 46 YEARS.
That run included a 6-0 battering in 1993 and the 3-1 defeat Chris Wilder’s men dished out to Mourinho’s side in July.
And after back-to-back wins for the first time this season – albeit against Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup and a Newcastle side Steve Bruce described as 'absolute sh**e' – you would have expected Wilder’s men to have their tails up.
But there is a reason they are rock bottom of the league on just five points and inside five minutes any positivity was wiped out.
That was when they fell behind to a routine corner which Son Heung-min swung in and Aurier headed in at the near post.
The Frenchman was then mobbed by eight of his team-mates in a mass team hug which will no doubt have further enraged politicians who insist players must remain socially distant in celebration.
Kane and Son’s partnership has been one of the highlights of the season this term, not just for Spurs but the Premier League arrival.
The pair matches Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton’s record of 13 combined goals in a season against Leeds earlier this month.
And they almost broke it here on eight minutes when Kane, once again dropping deep, fed Son who clipped the ball over the advancing Ramsdale but struck the post.
The hosts offered next to nothing and were the architects of their own downfall as they fell two behind shortly before the break.
They lost the ball when trying to play out from the back as Oli Norwood had his pocket picked.
That allowed Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to feed Kane, who drove at a timid backline that allowed him to find the bottom corner.
The strike moved Kane to 207 goals for the club and to within one of second-top scorer Bobby Smith, though still another 59 short of Jimmy Greaves’ record.
The Blades’ performance had harsh critics Graeme Souness and Roy Keane raging at half-time.
Souness labelled the defending for the second goal as 'pathetic'.
While Keane ranted: “They could go down as one of the worst teams ever to play in the Premier League.”
The big question at the break was whether Spurs would once again throw a lead by sitting back and trying to see it out.
It felt unlikely, given how little Wilder’s men offered going forward.
Yet when McGoldrick flicked home to halve the deficit just before the hour, you did begin to wonder.
United have had such little quality in attack this term but John Fleck’s delivery was right on the money and McGoldrick did the rest.
Yet that glimmer of hope was erased within four minutes thanks to Ndombele’s moment of inspiration.
The Frenchman had a neat interchange with Steven Bergwijn who flicked it through for his team-mate to run onto.
It was a cute pass but left Ndombele with a seemingly-impossible angle to score from, if he was to shoot at all.
But that was exactly what he did, lifting the ball over Ramsdale with the outside of his right foot and somehow managing to drop it in at the far post.
The breathtaking strike capped off the midfielder’s fightback under Mourinho over the last 15 months.
The £65million star looked set for the exit door when largely being overlooked last term.
Yet he has won over Mourinho this term to become one of Spurs’ best and most important players, capable of moments of ingenuity, and none better than this.
It was beautiful to watch and left you wanting more, knowing what this Spurs attack is capable of.
Fingers crossed the man in charge of the team felt the same way.
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