Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 28 September 2020

Sheffield United stun Spurs on night of frustration for Jose Mourinho

Tottenham manager will point to disallowed Kane goal but his team were deservedly beaten by a patched-up and out-of-form Blades at Bramall Lane

Jose Mourinho may imagine this was a hard-luck story. And yet, as controversial as the goal that wasn’t may prove, as much as VAR may be lamented and unfair as a handball law that can punish the unwitting feels, there are other reasons why Tottenham’s dream of Champions League qualification may have ended at Bramall Lane.

Defeat was not down to one decision alone. Not on a night when Spurs were resoundingly mediocre and a patched-up, out-of-form Sheffield United side belied their slump and their injuries to produce a performance of great determination that was capped by three well-worked goals, scored by the outstanding Sander Berge, Lys Mousset and Oli McBurnie.

For Spurs, this felt another missed opportunity in a season of them.

Tottenham’s grievances may resonate for some time but United merited credit.

They were so depleted they could only name seven substitutes. They were without two of their usual midfield three but Berge, who came in, scored.

Chris Wilder’s team showed they share his can-do mentality by conjuring their first win of a difficult summer.

They can now look down on Tottenham in the table and, after beating Arsenal in autumn, have registered a famous double at Bramall Lane.

Their opener was a landmark goal; not merely United’s first in the league since the restart but the record signing’s first for the club.

Berge has had a stop-start Blades career but an assured finish, angled across Hugo Lloris, was a glimpse of his quality. He had latched on to Chris Basham’s cut-back.

Immediately, but briefly, Spurs thought they had levelled. United have felt a variety of VAR decisions have gone against them this season but technology came to their assistance.

Harry Kane had turned past Basham to dispatch a left-footed shot. But his supplier was Lucas Moura, who had made a driving run, stumbled and accidentally deflected the ball into his path with his upper arm.

Handball, even if Moura was fouled. In theory, advantage was played, only for it to be wiped out by the ruling he had handled.

An unhappy Mourinho was warned by the officials for his dissent. The problem was that the law was applied, and this interpretation of the law feels problematic.

The previous evening, West Ham had responded to seeing a goal ruled out in what felt unfair fashion with a stirring victory. Spurs’ reaction was less impressive.

David McGoldrick’s season-long quest for a league goal continues after he shot into the side-netting but his replacement made scoring seem simple. Mousset had a tap-in from Enda Stevens’ low centre.

The wing-back got the ball from Ben Osborn, making the most of a belated first Premier League start. Then Berge surged clear on the right to set up McBurnie for a similarly easy finish.

While Kane had two more goals disallowed, neither remotely controversially, before eventually converting Son Heung-min’s cross, Spurs did too little to trouble Dean Henderson; a team of this talent ought to have created more. While last season ended in a Champions League final, this one may peter out.

Updated: July 2, 2020 11:07 PM

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