English Premier League

Sheffield United 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur

Sheffield United 0-3 Tottenham Hotspurafter they ended their inconsistent campaign on a high by thumping the Premier League’s bottom club Sheffield United to clinch a Europa League place.

After a prolonged search for Antonio Conte’s replacement, Postecoglou left Celtic to take over last summer and Spurs were touted as title contenders early in his reign but have fallen away to finish fifth.

“Contrary to my general demeanour, I have loved every minute of it,” said the Australian. “It is a great challenge in the Premier League, and taking over a big club. I have enjoyed it all season and I have some pretty lofty ambitions for the football club.”

The visitors were shaky early on at Bramall Lane as Ben Brereton Diaz fired over for the Blades in the opening two minutes and struck the post with an effort on the stretch.

But Spurs scored the opener with their first attack as Son Heung-min picked out Dejan Kulusevski’s run into the box and the midfielder drilled a cool finish into the far corner.

The Sweden international should have added to his tally shortly after but was denied by Wes Foderingham’s sharp save low down, while centre-back Cristian Romero struck a post.

Pedro Porro smashed in a scorching first-time finish to double Spurs’ lead in the second half, before Kulusevski managed to slide home his second of the game to condemn Sheffield United to their 28th defeat of an abysmal campaign.

In a season that promised so much in the opening few months, Spurs will regard their final position as a disappointment having gone – at the end of October – five points clear at the top of the table.

But a winless November and five defeats in their last seven games meant a return to the Champions League was out of reach by the end.

Postecoglou has delivered an improvement on the eighth-placed finish last term but concerns are starting to develop after calling out the “fragility” around the club and taking aim at supporters celebrating Manchester City’s goals against their own team on Tuesday night.

That result dented north London rivals Arsenal’s title ambitions and City’s victory over West Ham on Sunday meant Pep Guardiola’s side retained the trophy in Manchester.

That was not lost on the Spurs fans in attendance at Bramall Lane, chanting “shame about the Arsenal, ole ole…” as the scorelines filtered through from Etihad Stadium and Emirates Stadium.

Postecoglou said: “It has been good, eventful and a bit of everything. I am obviously not delighted with how we finished the season but we have been in the top five all year. We finished eighth last season and we have been competitive for the most part. I have had maximum effort from everyone.”

Spurs must assess during the close season how they can improve, and now head straight to Australia as they face Newcastle in a post-season friendly in Melbourne on Wednesday.

In between their goals, Spurs should have racked up a sizeable scoreline in south Yorkshire but Rodrigo Bentancur struck the woodwork and home goalkeeper Foderingham – on his last Sheffield United appearance – made impressive full-stretch saves to deny Son and Porro.

The final whistle drew to a close a thoroughly miserable season for Sheffield United, who will go down as one of the worst sides in Premier League history.

A campaign that started terribly with nine defeats and a draw in their opening 10 games left the Blades blunted at the bottom of the pile and staring at an inevitable return to the Championship.

The returning Chris Wilder could not arrest the slide after replacing Paul Heckingbottom in December as the team ended up winning only three of their games and picking up just 16 points – with only Sunderland (15) and Derby faring worse (11).

They have shipped 104 goals, the highest total in Premier League history and their goal difference of -69 is matched only by the dismal Derby side of 2007-08 which also finished rooted to the bottom.

Wilder has pointed to a big summer, and five exiting players including club legends Chris Basham, Ollie Norwood and Chris Baldock, as well as Foderingham and Max Lowe, waved goodbye at full-time as the club bid farewell to the top flight.

Wilder said: “The first half an hour summed our season up and after that there is a familiarity of what happened. We had some great chances and were the better side against a quality team with the magnitude of Spurs.

“We have not got enough personality in the team to put the opposition to bed. Goals change the atmosphere, it was positive before the game, it was a beautiful day when we got up and the sun was shining but hasn’t been a beautiful season.”

source – BBC