Tottenham 4-0 Sheffield United: Gareth Bale takes stunning hat-trick to boost Champions League hopes
This was how Gareth Bale last left Tottenham. Shooting in goals, winning matches on his own, as fans longed for more and still wished him the best when he disappeared from Real Madrid.
Bale claimed there were no plans in March to stay on loan beyond this one season, although Jose Mourinho was at the helm at the time and he was heating up the bench.
Two weeks after the departure of Mourinho and the Wales international, it is back on the team and thriving, scoring three goals against Sheffield United to record its first Spurs hat-trick since Boxing Day in 2012.
Gareth Bale scored a lavish hat-trick as Tottenham moved up to fifth after eventually knocking Sheffield United aside
The Welshman opened the scoring with a beautiful move over Aaron Ramsdale in 36 minutes after Serge Aurier’s assist.
“Villa gone,” said Bale beaming, remembering the occasion. ‘It seems a while ago. You have to take your chances when they come, so I feel good. I just had to play games, get a set of games and I do now.
‘Winning makes everyone happy and gives the dressing room a winning mentality. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I feel like we’re taking a step in the right direction. ‘
It helps, of course, to meet Sheffield United, the worst team in the top flight of course, drifting back to where they came from in a bleak fashion, but Bale’s clinical finish was a reminder of his unquestioned quality.
His first was athletic, at full power, to run a bouncing ball past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale with the outside of his left foot after jumping through the Blades ranks to reach a pass from Serge Aurier.
MATCHES AND PLAYER RATINGS
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris 6; Aurier 7, Alderweireld 6, Animal 6, Reguilon 6.5; Lo Celso 6 (Winks 70, 6), Hojbjerg 6.5; Bale 9 (Begwijn 75, 6.5), Alli 6 (Lamela 78), Son 7; Kane 6.5.
Subs not used: Hart, Doherty, Sanchez, Hart, Sissoko, Moura, Ndombele.
Goals: Bale 36, 61, 69, son 77
Manager: Ryan Mason 7
Sheffield United (3-4-1-2): Ramsdale 6; Baldock 5, Egan 5, Basham 6; Bogle 6 (Berge 46.5), Norwood 6, Fleck 6, Stevens 6; Osborn 6; McGoldrick 5 (Mousset 83), Brewster 5 (Burke 46, 6).
Subs not used: Foderingham, Robinson, Gordon, Jagielka, Lowe, Lundstram.
Manager: Paul Heckingbottom 6
Son Heung-min came in shortly after the break after an extraordinary pass from Toby Alderweireld – but it was not allowed
Bale doubled his score after Son broke from the depths and slipped him in effortlessly to run and drill home
The hat-trick followed shortly afterwards when Aurier picked up Bale again and he made no mistake from the edge of the box.
Bale now has eight goals in as many Premier League appearances after a difficult start to the season in which he fell out of favor
His second, a truly empathetic strike shot in the top corner after Heung-min Son sent him off after a counterattack from a corner from Sheffield United, was his 50th in the Premier League and his third to have passed low past Ramsdale.
Tottenham was rolling out at this stage. Son added the fourth, a lovely curling shot from the edge of the box and there were maybe more.
Harry Kane was unusually wasteful, but Spurs dropped to fifth in the Premier League, wondering if there is still time to make a late sprint for the top four.
“You never know,” Aurier said. “People think it’s stupid, but when we win the last four games, we’ll see.”
Maybe a blush even helps when looking for a manager. Meanwhile, interim boss Ryan Mason is warming up for the job.
Spurs dominated without converting their easy possession into goals. Bale cut in from the right and shot over and Kane shot one even higher from the edge of the box.
Son then got himself on the score sheet after sliding the ball to his right foot and curling home beautifully from a distance
Paul Heckingbottom’s men did well to keep their opponents at bay for a long time and had little to offer in an offensive sense
Harry Kane was unusually off target and wasted a number of presentable chances during the match
Ramsdale made a great low save to deny Son and Chris Basham blocked the line to frustrate Kane. Once Bale broke through, Tottenham didn’t look forward to losing the lead.
“No one should ever have questioned the world-class ability he has in the last third,” Mason said when asked about his hat-trick hero. “It was an excellent performance.”
VAR ruled out a goal from Son, who raced on a long ball out of Toby Alderweireld’s defense, but found himself slightly offside when the lines were drawn in Stockley Park.
That would have been for 2-0, but it only slowed down the inevitable.
Sheffield United have not won at Spurs since 1991 and never looked forward to ending the long wait.
It took them 65 minutes to register an attempt on goal, a long shot by Oliver Norwood, saved without fuss by Hugo Lloris.
In the first half they offered almost nothing. David McGoldrick shot wide in the first minutes and that was about it.
Unimpressed, Paul Heckingbottom made two changes and his team offered more purpose and ventured further onto the field after the break to capitalize on the strengths of Tottenham, who threatened space.
The only real trouble the Blades de Spurs caused came in the opening moments of the second half when John Fleck stepped on the side of Giovani Lo Celso’s head and squirmed him around, clearly in great pain.
Lo Celso had been on deck and Fleck tried to avoid him, although he wasn’t paying much attention. At least that was the conclusion of the officials.
Spurs coach Chris Powell disagreed, as he led the angry complaints on the sidelines. Lo Celso went on for a while before retiring to the couch when he carved a comic figure with a huge ice pack glued to his head.
“I’m so shocked it wasn’t a red card,” Mason said. ‘I’m shocked that the VAR team didn’t at least tell the referee to watch. I don’t think there is a clearer red card.
“He has endangered an opponent. I can’t believe it wasn’t given as a red card. It is to be avoided. In my eyes it is undoubtedly a red card. ‘
Ryan Mason took his second victory in temporary leadership when Spurs bounced back after being dominated in the Carabao Cup final
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