Leicester City missed out on Champions League qualification as a Kasper Schmeichel own goal and a late double from Gareth Bale condemned the Foxes to a 4-2 defeat by Tottenham on the final day of the season. 

Chelsea's 2-1 loss to Aston Villa meant Brendan Rodgers' side would have sealed a top-four finish with victory over Spurs and they started well, Jamie Vardy putting them ahead from the penalty spot. 

Harry Kane – in what could prove to be his final game for the club amid rumours he wants to leave – pulled Spurs level before the interval, though, with a goal that secured this season's Golden Boot ahead of Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. 

Another Vardy spot-kick restored Leicester's lead early in the second half, but there was late heartache for the hosts when Schmeichel – one of the heroes of last weekend's FA Cup final win over Chelsea – punched into his own net from a corner 14 miniutes from full-time.

Bale's late brace then ensured Brendan Rodgers' side finished the campaign a point adrift of Thomas Tuchel's fourth-placed side.

 

Gareth Bale has been given a rave review by Ryan Mason – but Tottenham's interim boss cannot say if the Wales winger will return to north London next season.

After losing his place at Real Madrid, Bale rejoined Tottenham last September on a season-long loan, but he is due to return to the Spanish capital once the Premier League campaign ends.

Asked whether Bale could stay with Spurs for 2021-22, Mason said: "I am not sure, I have not had those conversations.

"The club will have those conversations at the end of the season. After this game at the weekend he goes back to his parent club. He is a Real Madrid player.

"These conversations, these situations, I am not sure of. I just know hopefully he's going to help us at the weekend."

A report in Spanish newspaper AS on Friday claimed Bale is focused on spending next season with Madrid, before retiring afterwards when his lucrative contract expires.

There has been no indication from Bale that he intends to follow that path, and his playing prospects at Madrid could depend on who coaches the team next term, after the 31-year-old fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane.

Mason has had no doubts about Bale's recent commitment to Tottenham, and he frowned on any suggestions the Wales international might be holding something back for Euro 2020.

"I completely disagree with that personally. I can only speak of my experience in this last five weeks with Gareth. He's scored four goals for this football club in that time. He's been excellent," Mason said, speaking ahead of Tottenham's season finale at Leicester City on Sunday.

Bale has not completed a full 90-minute game in the Premier League since embarking on his second spell at the club, but in 19 appearances, of which just 10 have been starts, he has scored nine goals in the competition, with only Harry Kane and Son Heung-min ahead of him at Spurs.

He has significantly exceeded his expected goals (xG) total of 4.8, and Kane (22 goals from xG of 16.76) and Son (17 from xG of 8.86) have done likewise.

Looking at Bale, and his performance in the 2-0 win against Wolves, Mason said:  "Last weekend I think was the most minutes he's played in the Premier League all season, pushing close to 90 minutes.

"I think if you were to look at Gareth in that moment he looked fit, he looked strong, he was brave, he added a different dimension for us and he has severe quality as well.

"In terms of him thinking about this summer, I don't believe so because he was out there the other night playing through some pain, playing through a problem he had, for me, for himself and for the football club.

"In terms of Gareth's commitment and Gareth's quality, I think his commitment has been fully there in this moment that I've been here and in terms of his quality, his quality is never going to leave him. I think you see that every time he's on the football pitch."

Gareth Bale is "performing at his best" and Ryan Mason is delighted to have the Real Madrid loan star on top form for Tottenham's run-in.

Spurs face Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday with designs on narrowing the five-point gap to fourth-placed Chelsea in pursuit of Champions League football.

Consecutive Premier League wins over Southampton and Sheffield United have aided their cause, with Bale scoring four goals across those two games, including a hat-trick against the Blades.

That treble put Bale top of the pile in terms of his goals-per-minute ratio in the top flight, with his nine goals coming at an average of one every 81 minutes.

It marks an upturn in fortunes amid a loan spell in which the Welshman has often underwhelmed, but there is talk of Bale staying for next season if that is the wish of all parties.

Reflecting on the forward's performances on and off the pitch during his brief spell at the helm, interim boss Mason said: "I can only go off the back of the last two weeks, from what I've seen from Gareth, I experienced playing with him as well, a top professional with immense quality, he's produced on the football pitch as well, he's happy and I'm happy.

"We have to be performing at our best, at the moment he's performing at his best.

"I pick the team from training performances, certain individuals who will help that team within that match. For the game against Southampton, we needed Gareth, someone we could rely on to produce that moment.

"We have so many options at that high end of the pitch, there are difficult decisions to make. Gareth has proved in the last couple of weeks that he's got that quality in the final third."

Asked about Bale's future, Mason added: "Those questions and answers are not for me to say, Gareth and his parent club are having conversations.

"It's not right to focus on the next season, we have to focus on our next game, it's a massive match.

"When the season is done, those conversation will happen."

If Bale should add one more to his tally, it would represent the longest gap between 10-goal seasons in the competition's history (8), overtaking Paul Scholes and Nwankwo Kanu who each went seven campaigns between netting double figures.

Spurs have history on their side heading to Yorkshire, having won the last three in a row against Leeds in a six-game unbeaten run.

However, Leeds are seeking to remain unbeaten at home in the Premier League against each of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs in a season since West Ham in 2015-16, and only the third newly promoted team to do so, after Ipswich Town in 2000-01 and Birmingham City in 2009-10.

The tactical battle will be plotted by two managers with wildly varying levels of experience, as Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa is 35 years and 327 days older than Mason, representing the second biggest gap between two opposing coaches meeting in the competition, after Bobby Robson and Chris Coleman (37 years, 112 days).

As we head into the decisive matchdays in the Premier League season, match-winners will become worth their weight in gold to all 20 sides in the division.

With that in mind, our latest suggestions for fantasy football enthusiasts include a good number of forwards who will be expected to chip in with goals.

There are also two of the league's most in-form defenders and a goalkeeper who might just have won himself the number one spot.

Our tips for this week – powered by Opta, as always – are below...
 

DEAN HENDERSON

Since taking over Premier League duties while David de Gea was in Spain for the birth of his daughter, Dean Henderson has made it clear he does not intend to relinquish the Manchester United starting spot.

The former Sheffield United loanee has the best save percentage (82.4) in the competition this season, while he has conceded just 0.6 goals per game on average – the best rate of any keeper to play at least 200 minutes.

Henderson will likely keep his spot for the trip to Aston Villa, a team who have beaten United just once in their previous 44 Premier League meetings.

BEN CHILWELL

Fresh from celebrating reaching the Champions League final, Ben Chilwell will be looking to keep up his strong league form for Chelsea.

The left-back has been directly involved in seven goals this season (two scored, five assisted) – no defender in the competition has been involved in more.

Expect him to provide his customary threat on the break when Chelsea take on Manchester City.

AARON WAN-BISSAKA

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer challenged Aaron Wan-Bissaka to improve his attacking output, and the tough-tackling right-back appears to have heeded the call.

Three of his four goal involvements (75 per cent) and 21 of his 26 chances created (81 per cent) have come since the turn of the year.

The United man also boasts 13 Premier League clean sheets this season; among defenders, he is behind only Ruben Dias and Matt Targett (14).

MOHAMED SALAH

Liverpool might have struggled for consistency this season, but Mohamed Salah's goal output has remained impressively high; he has 20 in the league, behind only Harry Kane (21).

On Saturday, he will meet some of his favourite opposition in Southampton, a team against whom he has scored seven goals in seven league appearances, including five in three at Anfield.

Saints have also lost their past three league games away to Liverpool by an aggregate score of 10-0.

GARETH BALE

With a hat-trick against relegated Sheffield United, Gareth Bale proved he could still be a vital asset in Tottenham's European chase.

Bale has scored nine goals in 727 minutes in the division this season, averaging a goal every 81 minutes, which is the best record in the competition in 2020-21.

Should he take his tally to 10 against Leeds United, Bale will set a new record for the longest gap between 10-goal seasons in Premier League history (eight), overtaking Paul Scholes and Nwankwo Kanu (seven).

MASON GREENWOOD

Mason Greenwood has recaptured some of his better form in recent weeks to help United... well, if not catch Manchester City, at least consolidate second place.

The forward has four goals and one assist in his most recent four league games, which is more direct goal involvements than he managed in his previous 28 appearances.

Solskjaer will likely have to rotate given the hectic week ahead, but expect Greenwood to be involved at Villa Park, even if it's as a substitute.

KELECHI IHEANACHO

Speaking of rediscovering form, nobody in the league has done so quite as spectacularly in recent weeks as Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Leicester City striker has scored nine goals and assisted two in his most recent eight league appearances – that's one more direct goal involvement than he managed in his previous 57 league games.

The Foxes are also on a run of eight wins in 10 league games against Friday's opponents Newcastle United.

Gareth Bale never had a chance to prove himself under former boss Jose Mourinho in his return to Tottenham, according to his agent Jonathan Barnett.

Bale has scored four times in the two games since Mourinho's sacking as Tottenham head coach, including a hat-trick against relegated Sheffield United last week.

The Wales international is on loan from LaLiga giants Real Madrid, with his future beyond 2020-21 uncertain.

Barnett believes his client may have been in fine form all along but was denied a chance to show it before interim coach Ryan Mason took the reins. 

"Given the opportunity, given the right way to play him, you may have found that he was always at his best," Barnett told Sky Sports News.

"He just didn't have the opportunity to prove it or the way to prove it."

Bale started only six league games under Mourinho, who was dismissed on April 19 before being appointed by Serie A side Roma this week.

"He had a tough ride and I don't think that should have been necessary," Barnett added. "He has been given that opportunity and you can see how he plays.

"I think with Gareth, like a lot of players, he has to enjoy his life and then you do well."

Bale – who scored his second Premier League hat-trick and first since December 2012 in the win over Sheffield United – has 14 goals across 30 appearances in all competitions this term. 

His three goals against Sheffield United came from six shots in total, five of those on target as he became the sixth Welshman to reach 50 Premier League goals.

The 31-year-old returned to Tottenham on a season-long loan from Madrid after seven years with the Spanish giants. 

Bale's loan expires in June and he will have one year remaining on his contract with Los Blancos. 

Three years ago, Harry Kane said he wanted to win trophies at Tottenham otherwise he may have to leave.

Spurs have not won any silverware since, however, prompting speculation the England striker may have move on to fulfil his ambition elsewhere.

Kane is contracted to the Premier League club until 2024 but they are set to miss out on Champions League football again.


TOP STORY - RED DEVILS PLOT STUNNING KANE BID

The Sun reports that Manchester United are set to table a £90million bid for Kane after approval from the Glazers to appease their recent fan fury.

The move would be a stunning development, but Kane is understood to be interested in joining the Red Devils.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy does not want to sell Kane to a rival, although he may be backed into a corner financially in order to re-build the squad.


ROUND-UP

- With West Brom doomed for relegation, goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is hot property with Manchester United joining the race for his signature, alongside Tottenham and West Ham, according to ESPN. The Telegraph claims West Brom have slapped a £20m price tag on him.

- Chelsea have entered the pursuit for Jadon Sancho, joining Manchester United and Liverpool after Borussia Dortmund lowered their asking price, says Bild.

- Real Madrid are monitoring the status of out-of-favour Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, according to Football Insider.

- Everton head coach Carlo Ancelotti is keen to lure on-loan Tottenham forward Gareth Bale to the club as the Welshman's future at Real Madrid remains uncertain, claims El Chiringuito.

- Dutch winger Noa Lang is being tracked by Leeds United, reports The Telegraph.

Jose Mourinho will be back in management next season after landing a three-year deal at Roma just 15 days after being sacked by Tottenham.

The Portuguese will take the helm at Roma for the 2021-22 campaign after the Serie A club announced the 58-year-old as Paulo Fonseca's replacement. 

It will be the next chapter in a career that has yielded major silverware across Europe, but one that has taken a notable downturn after a trophy-less spell at Spurs.

The cracks had already started to show for Mourinho prior to his Spurs exit on April 19, which came following a series of comments from the former Inter boss that hinted at significant unrest at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Here is a selection of the quotes which capture the Special One's descent into ignominy, a fate Mourinho will be desperate to avoid in the Eternal City as he seeks to recapture his glory days. 

 

SAME COACH, DIFFERENT PLAYERS

After Spurs stayed painfully true to form and surrendered a 2-1 lead to draw 2-2 with lowly Newcastle United, Mourinho promptly laid the blame at the feet of his players.

When it was put to him that his teams are normally good at holding onto leads, he said: "Same coach, different players."

YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO FEED YOUR KIDS

In one of the more bizarre post-match media conferences, Mourinho started ranting about the importance of feeding your kids.

It was after Spurs had lost 3-1 to Manchester United, with Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer criticising Son Heung-min for what he considered a bit of play acting.

The Norwegian said if his child had behaved like that, he would have deprived them of their food. It was, evidently, a joke.

Mourinho addressed this, entirely unprompted, but for him it was no laughing matter.

"It is very, very sad," he said. "I think it's really sad that you don't ask me about it. It's really sad that you don't have the moral honesty to treat me the same way you treat others.

"I just want to say, Sonny is very lucky that his father is a better person than Ole, because I think a father – I am a father – you have always to feed your kids, it doesn't matter what they do.

"If you have to steal to feed your kids, you steal. I am very, very disappointed, and like we say in Portugal bread is bread and cheese is cheese, I told Ole already what I think about his comments."

IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, OR IS IT?

Modesty appears to be an alien concept to Mourinho, who had no hesitation in comparing himself to NASA scientists.

Addressing the seemingly justified criticism he was receiving in light of Spurs' underwhelming campaign, the Portuguese went on the defensive.

"I don't think anybody is going to discuss rocket science with the guys from NASA, with everybody around the world," he said.

"They think they can discuss football with one of the most important managers in the game. That's the beauty of football.

"I got used to it, I appreciate that, so that's fine for me."

MOURINISTAS LOVE ME

The criticism never seemed to leave Mourinho too disheartened, such is the strength of his conviction that he has an army of loyal followers.

He calls them 'Mourinistas', and they are the source of his strength.

He said: "Honestly, I get my strength from myself but mainly from the people that I love and the people who I know they love me, even if many of them I don't know them, I haven't met them.

"I used to call them the 'Mourinistas', because in Portugal we use 'ista' in the end of the name of the club that we love, to express the support."

BALE SAGA

Gareth Bale's signing on loan from Real Madrid gave Spurs fans hope of a genuine title challenge, but that too proved a false dawn.

There were many hints that all was not well with Bale's second coming at Spurs, with Mourinho left fuming by an Instagram post in which the Wales star had suggested he had been involved in full training, despite the head coach insisting he was not fit.

"There was a contradiction between the post and the reality," said Mourinho.

SORROW SHOWS AFTER DINAMO BLOW

It wasn't all strength and defiance, though, as was evident after the shock Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb.

"To say I feel sad is not enough," he lamented. "What I feel is much more than sadness."

INDIVIDUAL MISTAKES

Going back to January, the willingness to turn on his own players was clear for all to see.

After a 1-1 draw with struggling Fulham, Mourinho saw "individual mistakes", though he did not confess that any were his own.

"There are things that are individual, that are down to individual qualities and individual mistakes," he said. "Basically I cannot say much more than that."

DIER DISAGREEMENT

After Eric Dier sat out Spurs' 2-0 win over West Brom in February, Mourinho said the England international was suffering a crisis of confidence.

However, in an open show of dissent, Dier insisted: "Confidence-wise, I don't feel like I've been in a bad place all season."

Gareth Bale's future is uncertain as his loan spell at Tottenham from Real Madrid draws to an end.

Bale has said he intends to return to Madrid for the final year of his contract.

Spurs' interest in keeping the Wales star beyond this season is not clear as they are in the market for a new head coach after Jose Mourinho's dismissal.

 

TOP STORY – NEW SPURS BOSS TO DECIDE ON BALE

The Daily Mail reports that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will let the club's new head coach decide whether or not to re-sign Bale.

The option remains for a second loan deal for the Welshman to re-join Spurs from Madrid next season.

Spurs have first option on a second loan but they would require Bale's agreement, although he appears out of favour in Madrid.

Triggering the clause will cost Tottenham £12million.

 

ROUND-UP

- Borussia Dortmund's asking price for Jadon Sancho is down to £87m (€100m) according to ESPN, which may interest Manchester United and Liverpool. Dortmund previously demanded more than £100m (€115m) for the England midfielder.

- Arsenal are interested in signing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, with a five-year deal on the table, according to Football Insider.

- The Athletic claims Brentford striker Ivan Toney is drawing interest from Leicester City and Everton as well as a "host of clubs" preparing bids for his services.

- Newcastle United are considering a move for Vitesse defender Danilho Doekhi, reports De Telegraaf.

- Bayer Leverkusen are in the mix to sign Santos' teenage forward Kaio Jorge, claims Kicker.

It was another Premier League weekend where off-the-pitch (well, sort of) matters dominated the headlines, with Manchester United's home game against Liverpool postponed as a result of anti-Glazer protests.

That also meant Pep Guardiola had to put the Cava back on ice for another week, with Manchester City's title celebrations on hold.

Nevertheless, there was still plenty to keep us occupied, with Mike Dean adding another to his red card haul for the campaign and Gareth Bale proving he can cut it against the best with a hat-trick against *checks notes* relegated Sheffield United.

Using Opta data, we look at some of the quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches…

 

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City: Guardiola's men unrivalled going forward

City and Guardiola being rather good is nothing new, but in terms of how effective they are going forward, you may not know how much better than everyone else they really are.

During Saturday's 2-0 win at Crystal Palace, which put them within one win of the title, City reached 700 goals under Guardiola across all competitions.

To put that into context, over the same period Liverpool have scored the second most among English clubs – 543. Then it's Tottenham (532) and – perhaps surprisingly so – Arsenal (522).

The only club among Europe's top five leagues to have outscored City over this time is Paris Saint-Germain (712), a club that spent roughly €400million on just two forwards back in 2017 and have – for the most part – dominated Ligue 1.

Of the 700, Sergio Aguero – who scored against Palace – has the most with 122, followed by Raheem Sterling (102) and Gabriel Jesus (81).

 

Chelsea 2-0 Fulham: Tuchel has Blues switched on at the back

Ever since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January, Chelsea have been better almost across the board.

Arguably their greatest improvement has been at the back, where suddenly the Blues look incredibly strong despite Tuchel having the same pool of players to pick from as Lampard.

Under the former England international they had conceded 23 goals in 19 Premier League games this term, but they've let in just eight in 15 with Tuchel at the helm.

People might be keen to suggest it's just luck, but the fact the Blues' xGA (expected goals against) is 7.8 shows their eight concessions is bang on.

Granted, Lampard's xGA figure of 18.4 was a fair bit lower than the 23 let in, so they were perhaps conceding to particularly remarkable finishing.

Nevertheless, the xGA per game of the two coaches are significantly different: Tuchel's 0.5 is exactly half Lampard's 1.0, but why? What's changed?

One potential explanation is that Tuchel has Chelsea pressing more intensely from the front, as shown by PPDA data. PPDA is the number of opposition passes allowed outside of the pressing team's own defensive third, divided by the number of defensive actions by the pressing team outside of their own defensive third.

Under Lampard they had a PPDA of 11, whereas it's 9.4 under Tuchel, the lowest in the Premier League over that time. Chelsea are now facing fewer shots (7.4 per 90 minutes, compared to 10.1), and this could be down to the greater off-the-ball intensity implemented by the German.

 

Newcastle United 0-2 Arsenal: Mike Dean loves a red

Few referees in the modern game have fascinated and infuriated fans quite like Mike Dean, who is – for want of a better phrase – absolutely box office.

From his self-assured facial expressions and body language, to his frankly baffling mannerisms and showmanship: when Dean is in charge of a match, you're virtually guaranteed a talking point of some description.

But above all, it's his eagerness to pull out that red card that is the most noteworthy aspect of his officiating.

He was the man in the middle as Arsenal beat Newcastle 2-0 on Sunday and had his say right at the end as he showed Fabian Schar the red card for a nasty lunge on Gabriel Martinelli.

It stretched his record as by far the most red-card-happy referee in Premier League history. It was his 112th, 45 more than any other official.

Remarkably, it was the eighth he's shown this season alone, which is at least double the next strictest referee in the Premier League, with Graham Scott and Peter Bankes next on the list with four each.

 

Tottenham 4-0 Sheffield United: Bale makes a statement

Bale was in inspiring form on Sunday as Tottenham smashed Sheffield United 4-0, with the Wales international scoring a hat-trick – his first in a league competition since January 2016 when he put Deportivo La Coruna to the sword.

Granted, netting a treble against the Blades might not be quite as impressive as doing so against… well, any other Premier League side for that matter.

However, his overall performance coupled with his "I play well when I'm happy" comments at full-time seemed almost directed at former Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, who had Bale in and out of the team for much of the season.

Those three goals took him to 11 goal involvements (nine scored and two assisted) in 16 Premier League games this term, an average of one every 66 minutes.

That is the best such record in the league this term. The next best (among players with more than two involvements) is his team-mate Harry Kane (34 involvements, one every 80 minutes).

Bale's future is uncertain for the time being, but such a record must have club officials contemplating keeping him around for another year.

Tottenham interim head coach Ryan Mason reiterated any talks between the club and loanee Gareth Bale will not take place before the end of the season following his hat-trick performance.

Bale – on loan from LaLiga giants Real Madrid – improved his scoring run to eight goals in eight Premier League games with a treble in Sunday's 4-0 rout of relegated Sheffield United.

The Wales star forward has had an indifferent campaign, having been largely under-utilised when fit by former boss Jose Mourinho, who was sacked last month.

Bale has previously indicated he will return to Madrid next season where he is contracted until mid-2022 but performances like Sunday may sway Spurs to push harder to retain him.

"I think that is a conversation at the end of the season between Gareth, the club and his parent club, our main focus and priority should be the next game," Mason said.

"It sounds a cliche but it is true. I am glad he is happy, he should be because he has another match ball to add to the collection. It was an excellent performance as well.

"I think the decision at the moment and the priority is Gareth is ready to train and he is happy in training.

"We have got another big week of training because we have got a massive game next weekend and hopefully we can have a happy Gareth next weekend."

Bale scored the seventh hat-trick of his club career, three of which have come at Tottenham (four for Madrid). The Welshman's other trebles for Spurs came against Aston Villa in December 2012 in the Premier League, and in October 2010 against Inter in the Champions League.

He became the sixth Welshman to score 50 Premier League goals, and the first since Craig Bellamy reached this total back in December 2006.

All nine of Bale's Premier League goals this season have come at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – the most goals by a player with 100 per cent of them coming at a single venue in the competition in 2020-21.

Mason, who is unlikely to have any say in the final decision, added he felt Bale was "outstanding" and "world class" against the Blades.

Gareth Bale says the key to his improved form is down to playing more regularly since Ryan Mason replaced Jose Mourinho as Tottenham boss.

The Wales international scored his second Premier League hat-trick, and first since December 2012, in Tottenham's routine 4-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday.

He was a second-half substitute in last week's EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester City, but the forward has started both league games under Mason, scoring four times in total.

That compares to five goals in 14 appearances under Mourinho in the Premier League this season, just six of those being starts.

And Bale, who is due to return to parent club Real Madrid at the end of the season for the final year of his contract, is glad to be enjoying his football again.

"You have to take your chances when they come so I'm feeling good," he told Sky Sports. 

"I just needed to play games and get a run of games and I'm doing that now. I'm happy and when I'm happy I play well.

"Winning always makes everyone happy and gives a winning mentality to the dressing room. It's not going to happen overnight but I feel we're taking a step in the right direction.

"It seems a while ago since the last hat-trick so it's nice to get it, but it is more important to get the three points."

Bale's three goals against Sheffield United came from six shots in total, five of those on target as he became the sixth Welshman to reach 50 Premier League goals.

Mason, who follows Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino and Glenn Hoddle in winning his first two Premier League games as Spurs boss, is unsure if "world class" Bale will stay on.

"That's a conversation for the end of the season," the caretaker boss told BBC Sport. "The priority and main aim now is the next game at Leeds.

"When you score a hat-trick you'll get the headlines. Everyone who has watched football over the past 10 years knows what he can do. His finishing was outstanding."

Son Heung-min rounded off the scoring for Tottenham, having earlier had one ruled out for a marginal offside, as they moved to within five points of fourth-placed Chelsea.

Spurs have won back-to-back league games for the first time in two months and Mason was pleased with the response on the back of last week's cup final loss at Wembley.

"It was a disappointing game last week," he said. "We had a really good training week that allowed us to work with the team. The attitude and desire today was outstanding. 

"To couple it up with some of the quality, it was a really positive performance. The attitude, competitiveness, first balls, second ball, desire to fight for 90 minutes. 

"We stuck together and had some real moments of quality. It was a really pleasing performance and a positive night."

Despite the comfortable margin of his side's victory, Mason felt John Fleck was fortunate to avoid a red card for catching Giovani Lo Celso on the face with his studs early in the second half.

"I am so shocked that it wasn't a red card," he said. "I'm shocked the VAR team didn't at least tell the referee to have a look. I think it's a stonewall red card. 

"I don't think there's a clearer red card. You see the replay once and he's endangered an opponent. I cannot believe it wasn't given as a red card. It's avoidable."

Already-relegated Sheffield United have picked up just four points from a possible 51 away from home this season, losing 15 of their 17 such matches.

United have lost 27 of their 34 Premier League games this season - the most they have ever suffered in a single Football League campaign in their entire history - and caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom is not looking for excuses. 

"Spurs were ruthless on the counter, but where we lost the ball on occasions and how we conceded the goals was poor," he told BBC Sport.

"That is not a performance that we want to see. It was so passive and I can't wait until the fans are back in because in a stadium like this it's absolutely dead. We tried to generate our own atmosphere in the second half but the game ran away from us."

Gareth Bale surpassed 50 goals in the Premier League as his hat-trick saw Tottenham keep their top-four hopes alive with a 4-0 win over Sheffield United.

With Chelsea having beaten Fulham on Saturday, the onus was on Spurs to claim three points against the relegated Blades to boost their Champions League ambitions, especially after seventh-place Liverpool saw their game at Manchester United postponed due to anti-Glazer protests by home fans.

Bale put the beaten EFL Cup finalists ahead with a deft finish in the first half before bringing up his half-century in the competition with an emphatic strike after good work from Son Heung-min.

The Real Madrid loanee completed his hat-trick with a low strike from the edge of the box before Son completed the rout with an excellent curling effort.

The visitors have now won just once in their past 26 Premier League games in London and saw goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale set a competition record of 27 consecutive away starts without keeping a clean sheet.

After a quiet opening, Son was denied by a fine Ramsdale save before Harry Kane shot low towards the right-hand corner only for Chris Basham to clear.

Sheffield United had begun to grow into the game when they were undone by a brilliant chipped pass from Serge Aurier, which allowed Bale to flick the ball left-footed over Ramsdale's head.

John Fleck was arguably lucky to escape punishment when he caught Giovani Lo Celso in the face with his studs when the Spurs midfielder was on the ground early in the second half.

Son thought he had doubled the lead after running onto a simple Toby Alderweireld long pass and blasting a shot beyond Ramsdale, but the goal was disallowed for a fractional offside.

Bale did make it 2-0, though, the Wales star rifling a strike into the top-right corner for his 50th goal in England's top flight after Son led the break from a Sheffield United corner.

His second Premier League hat-trick was completed eight minutes later as he wrong-footed Ramsdale with a crisp strike after Aurier teed him up on the edge of the penalty area.

Son added gloss to the scoreline with a superb strike that went in off the right-hand post, having earlier reached 10 league assists for the second season in a row.


What does it mean? Spurs can still believe in top-four chase

The result left Spurs five points behind fourth-place Chelsea with just four matches remaining, meaning they could yet snatch a Champions League spot.

However, with West Ham and Liverpool both able to climb above them should they win their games in hand, Spurs' chances of a return to Europe's top competition still appear slim.

For Sheffield United, who stay bottom on just 17 points, the season cannot end quickly enough.

Brilliant Bale

Bale's first Premier League treble since December 2012 highlighted the threat he still possesses in the attacking third – a threat too seldom seen for Spurs this season.

Still, if he can sustain such form over the final four games of the season and lead Spurs back into the Champions League, there will be few complaints from fans.

Brewster needs a booster

Rhian Brewster has now played 25 times in the Premier League this season without scoring, and his performance here made it easy to see why.

His only shot in a lifeless first-half showing was a speculative attempt that swerved closest to the corner flag, and he managed only 10 touches before being hauled off at the break.

What's next?

Spurs head to Leeds United and Sheffield United host Crystal Palace next Saturday.

Gareth Bale sent a message to former Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho after Wednesday's 2-1 win over Southampton, suggesting he should have put more emphasis on attacking.

Mourinho was sacked by Spurs on Monday with their Champions League hopes fading and was replaced until the end of the season by Ryan Mason.

Against the backdrop of European Super League controversy, which also affected Spurs, Mourinho's dismissal was effectively overshadowed.

But with the controversial competition crumbling on Tuesday, the attention was back on Spurs' football the following day and Mason – who became the Premier League's youngest manager in history (29 years, 312 days) – began with a victory.

It may not have been a classic, with a late Son Heung-min penalty securing the points, but the win moved Spurs back to within two points of the top four.

Bale was willing to offer an opinion on what Spurs had to improve on following Mourinho's dismissal, backing up reports the players had been frustrated by the Portuguese's negative tactics.

"Maybe just to be on the front foot a bit more," Bale told Sky Sports. "We want to attack.

"We're a big team, we have great players and we need to attack more and stay higher up the pitch and I think we did that today."

Spurs' first-half display against Saints left a lot to be desired, but they improved in the second period.

Bale put their slow start down to the upheaval rather than distraction caused by the Super League.

"Us as players, all we have been focusing on is trying to get the new manager to settle in, the matter [the Super League] is closed as far as I'm concerned," he added. "It's not happening, so we're all good. We can carry on as normal."

As for adjusting to Mason, he said: "[We] just have to be patient. [There were] positional issues as a team, we've only had a couple of days to work on that, so just minor teething issues.

"We'll continue to improve for the cup final at the weekend."

That final will see Spurs go up against Manchester City in the EFL Cup, the last competition they won in 2008.

Son Heung-min scored a late penalty to ensure Ryan Mason's first match as Tottenham caretaker manager ended in a 2-1 win over Southampton, boosting their top four hopes in the absence of Harry Kane.

Spurs' build-up to Wednesday's game was hardly ideal given the loss of Kane to injury before Mourinho was sacked amid the backdrop of the European Super League controversy, but Mason – who became the Premier League's youngest-ever manager (29 years, 312 days) – saw his team recover following a rocky start.

Seemingly a result of Kane's absence, Spurs failed to get a single shot on target in the first half for the first time this season, with Southampton – who went ahead through Danny Ings – good value for their lead.

Gareth Bale's equaliser sparked Spurs into life and, despite the disappointment of having a Son strike disallowed, the South Korean subsequently converted an 88th-minute spot-kick to give Mason's men a boost ahead of Sunday's EFL Cup final with Manchester City.

Wales captain Gareth Bale would support a boycott of social media sites unless greater action is taken to combat online abuse.

International team-mates Ben Cabango and Rabbi Matondo were victims of racism following the 1-0 friendly win over Mexico last Saturday.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said it was "disgusted" by the abuse and urged social media platforms and regulators to take "stronger, more effective and urgent action against this despicable behaviour".

Just two days earlier, former Arsenal and Barcelona star Thierry Henry announced he would be disabling his social media accounts until companies took greater accountability for discriminatory posts.

Speaking ahead of Wales' World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic on Tuesday, Bale agreed that more must be done to clamp down on such behaviour online.

"Something needs to happen," he said. "I think if everyone came together and decided to boycott social media, to make a statement [I would].

"If everybody did it at once, not just one or two people, and if we did a campaign with a lot of big influential people in sport and other forms of life came off social media to make a statement, then yeah, I think it could help.

"If that was the case, I would be all for that.

"I've had a lot of bad things said to me on social media, but I'm sure if they [Cabango and Matondo] wanted to come to me for advice they know where they am.

"We've had a brief chat, I haven't gone into too much details. They've spoken with representatives of the FAW and we know obviously it's in the hands of the police and an ongoing investigation.

"From my point of view, I try to stay off it because there's so many toxic people trying to say negative things and put you down.

"It's nice to be able to share what we do and how we do things, pictures of training and what we're enjoying doing.

"But looking at those comments sometimes it's best to stay away from it, share what you want to share and don't read too much into the comments because there's some horrible people out there."

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