Richarlison scored one goal and set up another as Tottenham struck twice deep into stoppage time to come from behind to beat shell-shocked Sheffield United.
The Brazil striker, who said this week he would “seek psychological help” for off-the-field issues he has been struggling with, came off the bench to head Spurs level eight minutes into the 16 that were added on.
He then turned provider by picking out an unmarked Dejan Kulusevski in the box for the Sweden midfielder to fire home the winner.
Until Richarlison’s intervention, Spurs’ unbeaten Premier League start under new boss Ange Postecoglou had looked to be coming to an end thanks to a Gustavo Hamer strike that crept in off the post.
The Blades had seemingly engineered a classic smash-and-grab away victory after soaking up pressure for long periods, with goalkeeper Wes Foderingham making a number of fine saves.
But Richarlison glanced home fellow substitute Ivan Perisic’s corner before Kulusevski won it to leave the gallant visitors – who had Oli McBurnie sent off right at the very end – broken-hearted.
Spurs find another way to win
Spurs have been rightly hailed for their fine start to life under Postecoglou – and to life without Harry Kane – with their vibrant performances helping the Australian win the Premier League’s manager of the month award at his first attempt.
But, of their four wins so far, this victory arguably might please him the most given the way Spurs had to battle and persevere to eke it out.
Most of their prior opponents this season had been happy to go toe-to-toe with Postecoglou’s famed Ange-ball philosophy but that was always unlikely with Sheffield United.
Paul Heckingbottom’s side came with a clear gameplan to stifle Spurs and it succeeded for much of the afternoon, although they still needed Foderingham to be at his best.
He made an excellent near-post stop to foil Yves Bissouma in the first half and also thwarted Ismaila Sarr, Son Heung-min, the lively Manor Solomon, James Maddison and Kulusevski at varying points.
The visitors created the odd chance on the counter, James McAtee eliciting a smart save from Guglielmo Vicario in the first half, and Hamer pounced when Spurs fell asleep from a long throw.
Brennan Johnson thought he had equalised with virtually his first touch in a Spurs shirt but the offside flag denied the deadline-day signing, leaving the stage clear for his replacement to steal the show.
Richarlison has endured a difficult time since leaving Everton for north London last summer, often employed as a substitute and scoring just once in the league before his header here.
But he – and Postecoglou – will hope the honesty he displayed off the pitch this week and the impact he made on it against the Blades can be the turning point of his Spurs career.
A fourth successive victory means Spurs have their best start to a season for 57 years and keeps them second in the early-season table before Postecoglou’s first taste of a north London derby at Emirates Stadium next weekend.
The winless Blades, meanwhile, remain on just one point from their first five games despite redoubtable efforts against both Spurs and Manchester City so far – with all four of their losses coming by a single goal.
And they will now be without McBurnie for at least one match after he was handed a second booking not long after Tottenham’s winning goal.