A hat-trick from Gareth Bale fired Tottenham Hotspur back into top-four contention on Sunday night.
Spurs ran away with a rampant 4-0 victory over Sheffield United in north London to move to within five points of local rivals Chelsea and that was largely down to the Real Madrid loan star.
And whilst he deserves plenty of plaudits for his goalscoring display, there was another Lilywhites man that merits just as much praise as he was arguably Ryan Mason’s unsung hero at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Assisting two of Bale’s three goals was right-back Serge Aurier, who put in a phenomenal showing along that flank alongside the Welshman.
On top of two simply sublime balls, the Ivorian was one of Spurs’ most influential players, recording a match-high 111 touches, which was more than the central midfielders who usually dictate the tempo of their game, including Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (106), Giovani Lo Celso (89) and Dele Alli (83), as per SofaScore.
The £18m-rated dynamo could’ve capped off a wonderful performance with a hat-trick of assists late on but his cross was tipped before Harry Kane could get a firm head to it. That would’ve been worthy of the match ball, too.
In total, Aurier provided a whopping four key passes, including one big chance created, which was only bettered by Heung-min Son (six) and was just one less than the remainder of the squad combined (five).
Usually, he only averages one of these each match, so it goes to show just how good he was from an attacking sense. He also made 95% of 86 passing attempts, which was a feat only bettered by Hojbjerg (97%) and Son (96%).
It didn’t stop there either as he was just as industrious defensively, where he registered two tackles and a joint squad-high two interceptions, showing that he can actually defend and read the game well at times.
The Evening Standard’s Dan Kilpatrick waxed lyrical over Aurier’s display, claiming both assists were “brilliant moments of creativity” and similarly, Alasdair Gold at football.london was also hugely impressed grading him a 9/10 in his post-match ratings column – a rare sight, indeed.
Bale may have fired Spurs back onto the right path this weekend, but without the former PSG man, there may not have been such quality service and that’s exactly why he deserves to reap the rewards, too.