Tanguy Ndombele scored a stunning goal as Tottenham got their top-four challenge back on track with a comfortable victory against bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United.
The midfielder - Spurs’ record signing - hooked a brilliant, improvised lob over Aaron Ramsdale to complete the scoring for the away side in the second half.
A disappointing run of just one win in their six previous Premier League fixtures had seen Spurs slip down the table with their inability to kill off games proving damaging.
But they were back to their ruthless best against a Blades side that had gone into the game buoyed by picking up their first league win of the season against Newcastle last time out.
Serge Aurier opened the scoring early on when he headed home Son Heung-min’s corner.
Harry Kane got his 12th league goal of the season just before half-time, driving a superb low strike from outside the box beyond Aaron Ramsdale in the Sheffield United goal.
David McGoldrick halved the deficit with a glancing header in the second half but Ndombele’s stunner made sure there would be no late drama.
Victory moved Tottenham up to fourth before the late Premier League games while Sheffield United remain bottom, 11 points from safety.
No second-half slip-up for Spurs
Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Fulham in their previous outing highlighted a frustrating issue with this current Spurs side - they often start well, get ahead but then fail to kill off an opponent, leaving them susceptible to a late blow when their opponent ups the pressure.
No side has scored more first-half goals than Tottenham in the Premier League this season (21), while their tally of just four conceded in the opening 45 minutes is also the best in the league.
Aurier’s early goal was also their ninth scored inside the opening quarter of an hour - another league high.
Conceding the late leveller against Fulham highlighted their need to make the most of their first-half dominance and they did that on this occasion with Kane making it 2-0 five minutes before half-time.
McGoldrick’s header to halve the deficit may have left Mourinho concerned that once again his side would come unstuck in the second half but Ndombele’s clever strike ensured there would be no late drama on this occasion.
Prior to Sunday, Tottenham had struggled against sides towards the bottom of the table, drawing with Fulham and claiming narrow 1-0 wins against West Brom and Burnley, so the better performance and more comfortable scoreline will have been pleasing for Mourinho.
Disappointing defensive errors for Blades
Sheffield United got a significant monkey off their back by picking up their first win at the 17th attempt by beating Newcastle last time out.
But the harsh reality is that they will need many more positive results and performances to have a chance of retaining their Premier League status.
This game against Tottenham was the start of a gruelling run of fixtures that also sees them take on Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in three of their next four fixtures - games few would expect them to get anything out of.
But regardless of the strength of their opponent, Blades boss Chris Wilder will have been disappointed that all three goals came from poor defending, with the hosts failing to pick up Aurier for the opener and then losing possession in dangerous positions for Tottenham’s second and third goals.
Yorkshire delight for Kane - the stats
- Spurs have lost just three of their past 30 matches in all competitions (W19 D8), winning four of their five in 2021.
- Sheffield United are only the second team in top-flight history to lose 16 of their first 19 matches in a season after Bolton Wanderers in 1902-03, who were relegated in bottom place.
- Spurs registered their first away league victory against Sheffield United since December 1975, ending a seven-game winless run at Bramall Lane.
- Sheffield United have conceded 15 home Premier League goals this season - as many as the Blades conceded at Bramall Lane in the whole of last season.
- Spurs forward Harry Kane has scored in each of his last six Premier League appearances in Yorkshire, netting 10 goals - Kane is the first player since Mark Viduka for Leeds between March and August 2003 to score in six consecutive appearances in Yorkshire.
- Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick has ended on the losing side in four of the five Premier League games he has found the net (80%) - the joint-highest percentage of any player to score in at least five Premier League games along with former Sheffield United striker Alan Cork (also lost 4/5 games he scored in).
- Jose Mourinho has never lost an away Premier League match against a side starting the day in the relegation zone (P28 W21 D7).
- Aaron Ramsdale has kept just six clean sheets in 56 Premier League appearances for Bournemouth and Sheffield United combined (10.7%) - the worst ratio of any goalkeeper to play at least 50 Premier League games.
Both sides switch their focus to the FA Cup fourth round next as Sheffield United host League One side Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, 23 January (15:00 GMT) while Tottenham travel to Championship outfit Wycombe Wanderers on Monday, 25 January (19:45)
- 6BashamSubstituted forSharpat 74′minutes
- 12EganBooked at 86mins
- 22AmpaduBooked at 90mins
- 7LundstramBooked at 50mins
- 16NorwoodBooked at 23minsSubstituted forBryanat 67′minutes
- 14BurkeSubstituted forBrewsterat 71′minutes
- 3ReguilónSubstituted forD Sánchezat 90+4′minutes
- 23BergwijnSubstituted forLucas Mouraat 87′minutes
- 7Son Heung-MinSubstituted forAlves Moraisat 90+2′minutes
- 6D Sánchez
- 27Lucas Moura
- 30Carvalho Fernandes
- 45Alves Morais
- Andre Marriner
Match ends, Sheffield United 1, Tottenham Hotspur 3.
Second Half ends, Sheffield United 1, Tottenham Hotspur 3.
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Davinson Sánchez replaces Sergio Reguilón.
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Carlos Vinicius replaces Son Heung-Min.
Ethan Ampadu (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Attempt missed. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Son Heung-Min.
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Lucas Moura replaces Steven Bergwijn.
John Egan (Sheffield United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by John Egan (Sheffield United).
Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Billy Sharp (Sheffield United).
Attempt missed. Billy Sharp (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.
Offside, Sheffield United. John Fleck tries a through ball, but Billy Sharp is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by John Lundstram.
Attempt blocked. Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Harry Kane.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Kean Bryan.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by David McGoldrick (Sheffield United).