What Radu Dragusin did to anger Sheffield Utd fans as Ange Postecoglou Tottenham issue laid bare

Radu Dragusin delivered another good showing as Tottenham secured a 3-0 win over Sheffield United

There was to be no late twist in the tale as Tottenham secured a place in next season's Europa League after returning to winning ways with a 3-0 win at Sheffield United. Only needing a point at Bramall Lane to confirm their place in UEFA's second club competition for the 2024/25 campaign, Ange Postecoglou's side looked certainties to tie up fifth spot but there was always a slim chance of Chelsea leapfrogging them as they trailed their rivals by three points and had a better goal difference going into the final day.

Blues fans perhaps sensed Tottenham potentially slipping up after Sheffield United made a bright start to the contest and created some very good openings inside the first 10 minutes. Ben Brereton Diaz blazed a chance over the crossbar minutes into the game as Ben Osborn seized upon a poor Radu Dragusin header, with the striker then hitting the post from Gustavo Hamer's cross moments later, although the linesman did raise his flag for offside following the scare.

Following such a positive start from the South Yorkshire club, Dejan Kulusevski fired Tottenham ahead with a lovely drive that went in off the post. A move that involved Micky van de Ven, James Maddison and Son Heung-min, the Swede, who was starting the game as a striker, arrowed the ball home in style and Spurs never looked back from that moment on.

Tottenham may have only gone in one goal to the good at the break but it could have been a much healthier scoreline had Wes Foderingham not denied Kulusevski, Son, Maddison and Pedro Porro with some excellent goalkeeping. Rodrigo Bentancur was also incredibly unlucky to see his low effort from the edge of the box hit the post and trickle along the goal line, with Cristian Romero volleying wide when he should have done better from an inviting Porro delivery.

Needing another goal to give them a two-goal cushion and kill any hope of a Sheffield United fightback in the process, it finally arrived in the 59th minute with Porro firing in an unstoppable effort from the edge of the box. After some more Foderingham heroics to stop Van de Ven netting, Brennan Johnson teed up Porro and the right-back scored a carbon copy of his rocket against Burnley eight days earlier.

Seeing Kulusevski add his second of the afternoon and Tottenham's third, it could have been four in the closing minutes but Johnson somehow hit the ball over from a matter of yards out following Son's delightful delivery. In the end it was a routine win for Tottenham as they secured a place in next season's Europa League, with Postecoglou was full of praise for his team after the whistle as he also labelled Foderingham as "outstanding".

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"I thought it was pretty good," he told in his post-match press conference. "I thought it was important we put in a decent performance today and won the game for a number of reasons. I thought the lads handled it pretty well.

"It's always a bit difficult last game of the year, Sheffield United don't have anything to play for, so it can be easy to kind of not have to right mentality but I thought for the most part we had that tonight.

"Three goals... I thought Wes Foderingham was outstanding. Overall I think it was an important win and a good performance."

It was the ideal way to bring the curtain down on such an up-and-down season and also end the term on a positive note.

Son and Maddison positives

While of course Kulusevski will rightly get the plaudits for an excellent display up front, a number of Tottenham players caught the eye at Bramall Lane on Sunday. Porro looked more like his old self and made it four goals for the season, with the Spaniard unlucky not to add an eighth assist of the term to his name after putting in a great ball that Romero really should have converted.

Son and Maddison also proved to be key players in the win as they caused the hosts a number of problems after previously struggling to recapture their best form at a time when Tottenham were pushing for a top-four finish. For Maddison, the league season is probably ending at just the wrong time for him after delivering some better performances in the final few games of the season.

However, it could bode well for Gareth Southgate and England if Tottenham's No.10 is to be part of his Euro 2024 squad for the tournament in Germany. Maddison was in good form at Bramall Lane and deservedly got an assist to his name for Kulusevski's second of the afternoon.

The pair almost did likewise in the first half but the Swede was denied by Foderingham after his teammate had played him in. The shot-stopper then frustrated Maddison towards the end of the first half after Son's reverse ball had set the ex-Leicester City man free in the box.

Son was another who took the game to the visitors and looked much better for playing on the left flank. The 31-year-old has led the line for Tottenham in the run-in due to to Richarlison's absence but that had a detrimental effect on his form as he got very little joy out of defenders and only contributed with two goals and two assists in the final two months of the term.

Getting an assist for Kulusevski's opener and then seeing his powerful shot kept out by Foderingham midway through the first half, Son had a key part to play leading up to Tottenham's second and third goals of the afternoon. Porro's goal all came from a swivel of the hips from the Spurs captain as he sent Jayden Bogle the wrong way before bursting into the area, thus resulting in Foderingham denying Van de Ven and Porro firing home seconds later.

It was Son who then set Maddison free for the final goal of the day after producing a delightful ball with the outside of his right boot from the left touchline. His teammate duly put the ball across the face of goal with a first time pass and Kulusevski made no mistake to double his tally.

The confidence was just oozing through Son's veins and that could be seen from the whipped delivery to the back post that put the ball on a plate for Johnson to convert. The winger really should have scored from a couple of yards out and his reaction said it all as he rested his head on top of the advertising boards behind the goal clearly in disbelief that he didn't score.

Maybe not the way Tottenham wanted to finish the season with the team missing out on a Champions League spot by two points, Postecoglou could certainly take some positives from the convincing win in Sheffield.

A rare clean sheet

Clean sheets have been hard to come by for Tottenham across the 2023/24 Premier League season. That's why it was nice for Guglielmo Vicario and Co. to record a shutout in their final game of the term.

Vicario, who was an ever-present for Tottenham in the Premier League season, recorded seven clean sheets from his 38 games across the campaign, with his previous one coming in the 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa in early March. Sheffield United drawing a blank on Sunday was only the second time in 2024 that Tottenham had not conceded a goal in a Premier League league game.

Tottenham's tally of 61 goals conceded in the league this season may have been an improvement on last year's 63 goals shipped but their leaky defence proved problematic when it came to trying to secure a top-four finish. Spurs are always going to be susceptible to conceding due to Postecoglou's style of play but it is an area they really need to improve on next season if they are to progress as a team.

After all, the top three of Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool conceded 34, 29 and 41 goals respectively from their 38 league games. Even Everton in 15th conceded fewer than Tottenham after letting in 51 goals over the course of the league season.

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Following a couple of issues early on with the visitors going close through Brereton Diaz, the only other time Vicario and Tottenham looked set to be troubled was when Cameron Archer was played through on goal following a swift Sheffield United attack. However, Pape Matar Sarr was to the rescue for Spurs as he got a vital touch to the attacker's attempt to divert it wide for a corner.

With Vicario targeted by teams over the course of the season with the goalkeeper having a couple of problems from set pieces towards the beginning of the year, the Blades looked to trouble the Italian from a long Jack Robinson throw in the first half. Getting defender Auston Trusty to stand right in front of the goalkeeper, Vicario wasn't having any of it and pushed the American away a couple of times before he eventually fell to ground.

Blades midfielder Oliver Arblaster wasn't a fan of Vicario's actions and went over to question the goalkeeper but he was soon pushed away by Romero. Once play eventually restarted after the referee had spoken to Vicario and Arblaster, Dragusin, who was handed his second successive Tottenham start, went and stood in front of his goalkeeper and offered him some much-needed protection.

Ensuring there was no way through for Trusty, the Romanian pushed the centre-back away a number of times and it's fair to say it didn't go down well at all with the home fans. His final push on the player, which saw the ex-Arsenal man stumble and sent him flying a couple of yards, certainly irked the home faithful as they made their feelings crystal clear.

Robinson's throw amounted to nothing in the end as Vicario was on hand collect the ball in both hands. Due to what happened in the moments before the defender had launched the ball in, Spurs fans cheered as soon as Vicario collected the ball and the home fans unsurprisingly booed.

The goalkeeper was then to receive the ire of home of the home faithful early in the second half after going to ground from Bogle's challenge. They were far from impressed and the ex-Empoli man was booed whenever he was in possession after that.

Just not giving the goalkeeper sufficient protection at times on set pieces, it's something Postecoglou and his coaching team need to look at next season as they must ensure their woes there don't continue into the 2024/25 campaign. Having Dragusin protecting his teammate would certainly work but that may all depend on whether the January signing is a starter in the head coach's Spurs team from August onwards.

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