LONDON: Gareth Bale scored a stunning hat-trick as Tottenham kept themselves in the Champions League qualification race with a 4-0 win over Sheffield United.
Bale claimed his first Spurs treble since 2012 with a trio of brilliant finishes to move his side into fifth, five points off Chelsea with four games left to play.
Son Heung-min also scored a fine goal as Ryan Mason’s men ran riot against a Blades side whose relegation fate has already been sealed.
Bale was unplayable and took his Premier League tally to eight goals in the last eight games, but with that must come a sense of what might have been this season.
Bale was alarmingly under-used by former boss Jose Mourinho, even when he had regained peak condition, and playing with freedom in a front four with Harry Kane, Son and Dele Alli, Spurs were a constant threat and a far cry from the pragmatic style that dogged Mourinho’s era.
It may have come too late to gatecrash the top four this season, but playing like this makes them a strong bet to finish in a Europa League spot.
Auba on target
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang staked his claim for a role in Arsenal’s Europa League showdown with Villarreal as he struck in a routine 2-0 Premier League win at Newcastle.
The Gabon international, starting his first game after returning from a bout of malaria, struck after 66 minutes – the fifth successive game in which he has scored against the Magpies – to cement the Gunners’ 17th win in 18 outings against the Tyneside club.
It was no more than his side deserved from a dominant display which saw them go ahead through Mohamed Elneny’s first top-flight goal and never look like surrendering their advantage.
For their part, Newcastle, who had substitute Fabian Schar sent off late on, looked a shadow of the team which had eased itself away from the relegation zone with a four-game unbeaten run, and they still have work to do with Leicester and Manchester City still to play.