Tottenham Hotspur put up a sloppy performance and got hit with the sword
Harry Kane had his shooting boots on Spurs putting the ball past Dean Henderson into the Sheffield net 4 times on the day. Unfortunately, for Tottenham Hotspur, only 1 of those 4 goals counted as an industrious and disciplined Sheffield United, took all three points from Tottenham 3-1 at Bramall Hall.
After a strong opening 10 minutes, really pressuring Spurs and having most of the possession, Tottenham Hotspur had seemed to start taking control of the game. Twice before the mid-half water break Spurs were able to work the ball into good spaces.
First, on 17 minutes Steven Bergwijn – who surprisingly started in the hole behind Harry Kane – played a nice one-two combination with Serge Aurier resulting in one of the few decent crosses on the day. However, on the way to Heung-Min Son open in the middle of the box, the ball deflected up into and off of Son’s midsection and harmlessly into Henderson’s arms.
Then at 23 minutes, there was a nearly full field move as Sissoko worked the ball up to Son who found Bergwijn who was able to turn and attack. While he faded in the second half before being substituted, Bergwijn showed some things holding the ball, turning, and attacking from the middle of the pitch. In this instance, Bergwijn played the ball off to Kane, who on this occasion rushed his shot and blasted wide and over for the water break.
Spurs continued to build up a head of steam picking up a couple of free kicks and having a shot from Sissoko saved by Henderson. But then the same issues that have plagued Spurs all season – regardless of manager – came back to haunt the team as everyone stood around watching, Sheffield pass right through them for an easy goal.
The Blades worked the ball across the field and then did something not one Spur did the entire game, which is getting to the end line.
By reaching the end line, instead of crossing the ball, you are cutting it back. In this instance Sander Berge – on of 3 wide open Blades – got the ball taking a touch to turn and then neatly slotted past Lloris 1-0 Sheffield was up.
As disappointing as the goal was, the disappointment was about to increase exponentially for Tottenham as the moment of the match soon ensued.
Within a minute of the kickoff following the goal, the ball was back to Davinson Sanchez, who booted up field. Harry Kane fought for the ball and it dropped to Lucas Moura. Moura started driving with the ball attacking centrally with multiple defenders around him.
As Moura drives, he is knocked off balance falling to the ground, refereed Chris Cavanaugh move the whistle to his lips but in the melee of Moura falling and an attempted Sheffield clearance the ball fell to Harry Kane. Kane took a touch, then cut inside the defender and slotted neatly past Dean Henderson with his left foot. Spurs were behind for less than a minute and the game was on.
Only, the moment never happened, really any of it. Moura wasn’t fouled, Kane didn’t shoot and score, the only thing that apparently happened was as Moura was pushed to the ground to keep from falling on his face as he put his arm out to break his fall it maybe touched the ball as Sheffield went to clear it. Never in my 35+ years of playing or watching football have I seen a played called for a handball in this way.
Apparently, Michael Oliver wanted to be involved in the game and he used VAR to call this handball. Making matters worse, since Cavanaugh had said play on previously that clear foul on Moura was moot. All that matter was he handled the ball on the way to the ground. Not sure this is football or soccer, it is something, but not the sport I know.
Honestly, Tottenham never recovered from that moment. They went through the motions the rest of the first half and time expired and everyone complained. Of course, at that point, what difference did it make.
The second half was nearly identical to the first, with lots of Tottenham possession and two more disallowed goals. The first was the correct call as Kane was offside, the second was marginal at best as Kane as adjudged to have pushed the defender as they both battled for the ball in the air. Great call from a man 20+ yards away.
As Tottenham continued to struggle to break down Sheffield, they fell asleep twice in the back and gave up two more goals. Harry Kane got his fourth shot on the day to go in at 89:30 minutes and after another 1:15 second VAR check, this one stood. No explanation for this check, other than to use up more time.
Spurs ran around, so did Sheffield, the game ended as does any real shot of having any European football for Tottenham next season. At this point, Spurs are 10 points out of third and 9 out of fourth, but more importantly, there are four teams between Tottenham and 4th place, making the odds of both making up the points AND passing ALL of the teams highly unlikely. Just a disappointing day and a sloppy, sloppy performance.