Christian Eriksen proved once again why he is now Tottenham Hotspur's most important player after netting two more goals of genuine quality against Sheffield United in last night's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg clash at Bramall Lane.
The first was a magnificent free-kick scored midway through the first half while the second was a brilliantly composed low finish in the dying minutes after the Blades had hit back with two quick-fire goals against the run of play to set up an exciting and frenetic finale.
Spurs travelled to South Yorkshire carrying a slender one-goal advantage from the first leg at White Hart Lane, and had the Denmark international to thank when they doubled their aggregate lead to move them closer to booking their place in a Wembley final against Chelsea on March 1.
Eriksen's precision from set-pieces this season has been mightily impressive, and Wednesday's effort against the League One outfit was right out of the top drawer, leaving opposition goalkeeper Mark Howard with absolutely no chance after curling the ball into the top corner via the back post from 25 yards.
However, it was the 22-year-old's 88th minute strike that proved to be the most important after Nigel Clough's side had got themselves back in the game following two goals in the space of three minutes from second-half substitute Che Adams.
Tottenham had been dominant for long periods, but after a brief lapse in concentration they were facing the prospect of extra time, until Eriksen saved Mauricio Pochettino's men from another gruelling 30 minutes of football in the final stages of the match.
It's the fourth time this season that the former Ajax man has scored decisive goals in the 87th minute or later, and Eriksen is quickly carving a reputation as one of the most valuable players in the country.
Joint-most winning goals in the Premier League
Spurs would be 13 points worse off without Eriksen's contribution in 2014/15, having already bettered his goals tally from last season with eight league strikes registered so far this term.
His nearest top-flight rival is teammate Harry Kane, who has won 12 points for Pochettino's side, with Charlie Austin, Alexis Sanchez, Bojan, Papiss Cisse, Danny Ings and Sergio Aguero making up the rest of the list that is dominated by strikers.
Kane has actually been the poster boy of Tottenham's recent revival - mainly due to the fact he's a product of the club's academy - but the statistics show that the £11 million signing from Holland in 2013 has also played an integral role for the north Londoners.
It's fair to say that Eriksen struggled to rediscover his best form during his debut campaign in England off the back of an impressive stint in the Eredivisie - despite winning the club's player of the year award last term - but after successfully finding his feet in the Premier League he's starting to show the sort of potential required to become a world-class star of the future.
Eden Hazard is the only other midfielder that can match his goal return in England's top-flight this season, and the fact that the Belgian takes penalties for Chelsea shows just how clinical Eriksen has been in and around the box.
Spurs will certainly need their star man to be at his best when they meet the Blues in the League Cup final in a little over a month's time, as Jose Mourinho's men will be looking for revenge following the 5-3 humbling they received at White Hart Lane on New Year's Day.
"We are not afraid [of Chelsea]," explained Eriksen in the aftermath of last night's 3-2 aggregate victory. "We will go there with no fear and it will be a good show.
"It means a lot to get to Wembley, we are all really excited," - Christian Eriksen
And, with his burgeoning reputation for producing the spectacular, particularly in the latter stages of games, Tottenham will certainly fancy their chances of lifting the first domestic trophy of 2015, although securing a top four finish - and thus qualifying for the Champions League - will probably improve their chances of keeping hold of Eriksen next season.
Christian Eriksen - The Late Late Show
According to the Daily Mail, his fine form has already attracted admiring glances from Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund on the continent, while Liverpool and Arsenal are also understood to be monitoring the Dane closely.
Given Daniel Levy's tendency over the years to cash-in on the club's most prized assets time and time again, don't be surprised to see Eriksen eventually follow the same path out of N15. Spurs fans should continue to enjoy watching him pulling the strings while they still can.
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