Report, Ratings & Reaction as Blades End Spurs’ Faint Champions League Hopes


Sander Berge celebrates putting his side 1-0 up against Spurs | JASON CAIRNDUFF/Getty Images

Sheffield United ended a run of four consecutive defeats as they produced a clinical display to sink a terrible Tottenham 3-1 on Thursday evening.

The game sparked into life just after the half-hour mark when patient play from the Blades saw Chris Basham reach the byline and produce a neat pull back to Sander Berge, who took a touch before firing past Hugo Lloris into the bottom corner.

Spurs thought they had restored parity almost immediately, only for Harry Kane to see his strike chalked off by VAR after Lucas Moura inadvertently handled the ball in the build-up.

In much the same way as the first half, the second began with Spurs pressing, yet the away side had the wind taken out of their sails by another clinical Blades counter. More clever play in the wide areas saw Enda Stevens cut the ball back to Lys Mousset, who had the simple job of tapping into an empty net.

The game was ended as a contest as yet more torrid Spurs defending allowed Berge to steal in and square for Oli McBurnie to put the result beyond doubt. A late Kane consolation did little to raise spirits on the Spurs bench as Mourinho’s men were soundly beaten on the night.

Key Talking Point

Chris Wilder was forced to field an under-strength side, with John Fleck, John Lundstram and Jack O’Connell all missing through injury.

However, despite only being able to name seven substitutes out of a possible nine, the spirit and unity which has steered Sheffield United into the top half of the table was still clear to see.

With their Premier League status already secured for another season and European football beginning to look a distant dream, it would have been easy for a depleted Blades side to feel sorry for themselves against one of the so called ‘big boys’ of English football.

But their approach to the game encapsulated the mentality Wilder has instilled in them.

Despite their opposition boasting a far more talented crop on paper, Sheffield United produced a team display which will have no doubt brought Wilder far more comfort than any individual masterclass, fighting for every ball and proving they’re far from done with their first season back in the top flight.

Starting XI: Henderson (6); Baldock (7), Basham (7), Egan (6), Robinson (6), Stevens (6); Berge (9*), Norwood (7), Osborn (7); McBurnie (8), McGoldrick (5).

Substitutes: Mousset (6), Freeman (N/A).

In the absence of Fleck and Lundstram, Sheffield United needed a big performance from their club-record signing – and they got just that.

The Norway international has endured a fairly underwhelming first campaign in England since arriving in January, though his display against Spurs showcased exactly the kind of player Sheffield United have in their ranks.

His all round game looked excellent, deploying a high press whenever the Spurs midfield had chance to settle on the ball, with his tireless work ethic becoming a feature of the home side’s play.

Key Talking Point

Serge Aurier endured a torrid night at right back
Serge Aurier endured a torrid night at right back | Michael Regan/Getty Images

The main talking point prior to the game was José Mourinho’s decision not to include Dele Alli in the starting XI, but nobody was talking about Spurs’ attacking options after the game – it was their defence that was the topic of discussion.

Mourinho has built a career on a solid defensive unit, yet Spurs don’t have the players to create such a backline.

Serge Aurier’s display typified his career so far in England. Erratic in the final third – regularly hoisting the ball out of play when given time and space to deliver a cross – and utterly hopeless in his own half. The Ivory Coast international’s dismal display was topped off as he stood and watched Sheffield United tear Spurs apart down his side in the build up to their second goal of the evening.

With Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen watching on from the bench, Mourinho has got a huge transfer window ahead of him if he is to make Spurs top four contenders again, let alone Premier League title hopefuls.

Starting XI: Lloris (6); Aurier (3), Sanchez (5), Dier (5), Davies (4); Sissoko (6), Lo Celso (7*); Bergwijn (6), Son (5), Lucas (6); Kane (6).

Substitutes: Lamela (7), Ndombele (5), Alli (6), Vertonghen (6).

There was little to rave about from a Spurs perspective, with defensive errors and lazy forward play resulting in a forgettable evening.

Giovani Lo Celso
Lo Celso was a rare bright spark in a horrendous Spurs performance | Michael Regan/Getty Images

While quality was sparse in the Tottenham performance, Lo Celso at least showed a willingness to receive the ball in the midfield and offer a forward ball to counter the Sheffield United high press.

The Argentina international offered industry in the centre of the pitch, though in all honesty was stifled by a brilliant Blades display.

The Premier League’s hectic schedule sees both these sides back in league action twice in the next week.

Sheffield United face a trip to Turf Moor on Sunday to face a Burnley side enjoying some fine end-of-season form and hoping for a late European charge, before a home clash against Wolves.

Meanwhile, Spurs host Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton on Monday night, with a trip to relegation-threatened Bournemouth to follow.

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