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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Richarlison and Kulusevski deliver late sucker punches for Spurs against Sheffield in 2-1 win


Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Sheffield United


Two last-gasp goals carried on Tottenham Hotspur’s promising start to the season as 12 minutes of injury-time were needed to turn the game on its head. Partners-in-crime Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski stepped up their efforts to break Blades hearts in the 98th and 100th minute respectively. Truth be told, it was harder not to get the three points than to bag them against Sheffield United, many people’s favourites along with Luton Town, Bournemouth and Everton to drop down to the Championship. Yet for a long time old, Spursy Tottenham appeared to have resurfaced.

What the hosts lacked today before their quickfire revival was…a Harry Kane to finish off their gilt-edged chances, most notably the ones Yves Bissouma, Manor Solomon and Richarlison spurned either side of the half-time whistle. Some of manager Ange Postecoglou’s decisions should also be revisited. D’accord in the end his triple substitution on 81 minutes paid dividends. But why waiting so long to take the uninspired Son Heung-Min off? Richarlison, who has publicly admitted to suffering from mental health problems and is therefore seeking the help of a psychologist, levelled the game in the 98th minute. 98, like his former idol Ronaldo's golden year. And the equaliser will have done him a world of good, just like removing fake friends from his life.

At 1-1, it was only a matter of time before the second would follow. Juventus winger Kulusevski completed the turnaround. In the end fans, players and staff alike celebrated the win as if they just won the Champions League. And rightly so. Old Tottenham sides would have either trashed Sheffield or found a way of losing a one-sided battle like this. This win is proof of their new-found maturity. Capital Football has analysed the two halves for you.


First-half


Tottenham Hotspur’s first-half approach was encouraging yet frustratingly incomplete as they failed to translate their domination and possession into goals. Some may argue that the outstanding Wes Foderingham’s reactivity on the line was their real undoing. But it had got more to do with their own lack of Midas’ Touch if the game was still locked at 0-0. For a club having to come up with new ways of replacing Kane’s 278 goals the day when reality was going to hit home was only a better of ‘when’ not ‘if. Their former hero expectedly left big shoes to fill and Postecoglou’s side were never going to find a like-for-like replacement meaning they have to find ways to spread the goals around the side. And it looked for a while that the club had moved the Kane page, with six different players on target in the opening six matches., Even today as much as five players could have got the fans off their seats. But instead the penny finally started to drop. In years gone by Kane would have pulled Spurs’ chestnuts out of the fire before the snowball started to gather as it rolled down the hill.


One of this season’s revelation, Pape Matar Sarr, tried his luck with an eight minute effort from distance before heading straight at Wes Foderingham with his attempt lacking pace and placement. Their best chance of the first-half came through Yves Bissouma who left two Sheffield United defenders trailing with his change of pace before undoing all his hard work by rolling his shot at Foderingham who read the situation well. The Blades keeper’s phone was ringing again when Son-Heung Min’s dipping curler towards the far post required two strong hands to palm it away and Romero fired a header into the palms of the opposition goalkeeper.

Former masters at shooting themselves in the food, Guglielmo Vicario’s outstretched foot from point-blank range denied James McAtee and Sheffield an underserved lead.

There’s an acceptance that the way Spurs are set up, trying to kill before they are killed, they will always leave spaces for the opposition to exploit. And one of Postecoglou’s rebuilding missions at the club will be to find ways of keeping their defensive structure unaffected by their attacking mindset. Dutchman Micky Van De Ven deserves as much credit as anyone for neutralising three ominous Blades attacks.


In the latter stages of the first-half, Manor Solomon unleashed a neat shot into the bottom far corner after a spectacular run across the edge of the box but again Foderingham was equal to it. August Player of the Month James Maddison then didn’t do his new tag justice when he, despite brilliantly controlling Solomon’s cross, dragged a shot wide. Along with trying more than what they could chew by testing Foderingham’s waters with a number of long-range shots instead of trying to break the stubborn hosts down with intricate play, VAR didn’t help. The home side had two penalty appeals turned down inside either side of the box.


Second half


The retreating Maddison’s tackle to block James McAtee near the touchline was probably the highlight of the second half until Richarlison re-established parity for Postecoglou’s battling side. The goal then sowed the seeds for Kulusevski’s late, late winner. Yet prior to that the 61,706 supporters were stunned by Hamer’s well-executed opening goal in the 73rd minute. But how did that goal come about? No one got a touch to a long throw-in across the face of goal. The Brazil-born Dutch international was free like a bird to let his killer's touch loose. Yet even if it looked that way, it wasn't going to be the goal that spiked Tottenham’s guns as a Swede and a Brazilian pulled two rabbits out of their hats deep into injury-time.

Unbeaten after five games and second behind superhumans Manchester City, tonight north London is one of the happier places in the world.

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