WEDNESDAY 4TH DECEMBER, 2019
MANCHESTER UNITED 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1)
Man Utd scorer:-
Rashford, 6, 49(pen)
Referee:- Paul Tierney
Assistants:- Constantine Hatzidakis, Harry Lennard
Fourth official:- Stuart Attwell
VAR:- Michael Oliver
Assistant VAR:- Stuart Burt
Man Utd (4-2-3-1):- De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Young (Capt.); Fred, McTominay; James, Lingard (sub Shaw, 87), Rashford; Greenwood (sub Pereira, 80)
Subs not used:- Romero; Tuanzebe, Williams; Mata; Garner
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Gazzaniga; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Sissoko (sub Lo Celso, 85), Winks (sub Ndombele, 70); Lucas Moura (sub Eriksen, 64), Dele, Son; Kane (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Austin; Rose, Foyth; Dier
Booked:- Winks (foul on James)
Mourinho’s presence inspires the wrong players
Spurs paid the penalty early in the second half for a rash Sissoko challenge upon Marcus Rashford who duly slotted home the penalty for his second goal, and one which was the winner for the home side. Spurs had hardly bothered De Gea in the first half, and looked lethargic and lacked the energy to combat a United side that was clearly inspired by the presence of their former manager. Early goals in each half did not help Spurs psychologically, but they were really the architects of their own demise.
Dele Alli scored a wonderful equalising goal just before half-time, but he has lost a record now, as this was the first Premier League game that Spurs have lost when he has scored. That had been a run of 38 games. United went above Spurs with this win, whilst Spurs will hold onto their top half position after tonight’s games are played. This round of fixtures has been televised by Amazon Prime (hence our 7.30pm kick-off), but this most certainly was anything but a prime Spurs performance. Jose’s winning start as head coach has quickly come to an end.
I felt that Mourinho went with the wrong men and the wrong formation last night. On Saturday he played 4-3-3 against Bournemouth. This time he went for a 4-2-3-1. Harry Winks made little progress in the middle and in fact Spurs too often fell into their old habits of trying to play out from the back, and also playing the ball backwards when in the opposition half. 22-year-old Scott McTominay was a potent force for United in midfield. Either Spurs played badly or United played better than I have seen them virtually all season. Jesse Lingard, making his first Premier League start since September had surely his best game for ages, and he and Rashford tormented the right side of Spurs’ defence with Davinson Sanchez looking particularly nervous at times. The tendency for Aurier to play in an advanced position clearly invited the “Red Devils” to attack down that side, and that is where both their goals originated.
Spurs kicked off and both sides indicated attacking intentions. Spurs fell behind far too early with Lingard and Rashford combining on the United left channel. Sanchez’s attempted clearance simply fell to the feet of Rashford who beat Gazzaniga with a killer shot inside Gazzaniga’s right post. The Spurs keeper did get a touch, but it was not enough.
Spurs attacked through Harry Kane and Lucas Moura. Lucas crossed and Kane was fouled about 25 yards out. He took the free kick but hit it well over the target. Harry Winks got the only booking of the night for a rash and quite needless tackle upon Daniel James on the touchline near the technical areas. United had a free kick after a foul by Sissoko on the opposition number 17 – Fred. Rashford stepped up but hit the free kick just wide of Gazzaniga’s right post. Gazzaniga made the first of several very good saves when James crossed from the right and Lingard fed Greenwood who hit a powerful shot.
Lingard passed inside to Rashford who hit the bar with a powerful shot from nearly 30 yards. Gazzaniga actually got a fingertip on this one. After another poor clearance by Sanchez, Rashford had another chance, and Gazzaniga saved this one diving low to his left. Spurs were suffering, and failing to clear their lines with Lingard the next to have a go at goal, thankfully wide. At last Spurs showed something at the other end with “Sonny” feeding the ball to Aurier, but his cross was far too deep and went out of play. Harry Kane was involved two or three times in the next decent Spurs move which ended with Son pushing the ball out to Aurier whose cross went straight to the hands of De Gea.
Spurs equalised at a good time, just over five minutes before the break. Vertonghen had crossed from the left and the ball reached Aurier whose shot was saved but only parried by De Gea. The ball floated out high and somehow Dele, with his back to goal flicked the ball over his head, turning and scoring in one movement. The goal had shades of that famous goal at Crystal Palace, but from closer range. There was a review, but the goal stood and we celebrated again!
United kicked off the second half and in no time Spurs had presented them with the lead. Harry Kane was perhaps harshly penalised for a foul near the half-way line. Ashley Young took a quick free kick passing it to Rashford who beat Aurier (too easily) and raced into the left side of the area where Sissoko rashly challenged. Referee Tierney pointed to the spot and after the confirmation of the penalty via VAR, Rashford sent Gazzaniga the wrong way and scored inside the left post.
After 51 minutes, Lucas Moura got the better of Young and crossed the ball to Son on the far side of the area. Son had two or three opportunities to shoot and when he did eventually get his shot off it was blocked by Fred. After a United throw, Spurs won the ball and attacked with Dele feeding Kane, whose shot was deflected and went out for a corner past the far post. A Vertonghen cross from deep on the left landed on the roof of De Gea’s net after 59 minutes. Gazzaniga made a clean and comfortable save from James after 61 minutes.
Eriksen replaced Lucas Moura and played behind Son, Kane and Dele. Harry Winks needed some treatment soon after that and it wasn’t long before he was replaced by Ndombele, who did add some forward momentum to Spurs’ efforts. Firstly though Gazzaniga had to save again from James, diving low to his left to push the ball away this time. Spurs broke forward from the resulting corner with Son making a final pass to Sissoko on the right, but his cross went straight to the United goalkeeper.
Solskjaer had replaced Greenwood with Pereira and was happy to strengthen the defensive element of his side. Spurs came forward but didn’t cause De Gea enough of a problem. Eriksen picked up a ball in midfield and this move ended with Son passing to Aurier, whose shot was comfortably held. Another cross by Aurier after a pass from Dele was also held by De Gea.
Lo Celso was a late replacement for Sissoko and Luke Shaw came on for Lingard. Ndombele drove forward and hit a shot after 88 minutes which De Gea held. Surprisingly, bearing in mind there had been a two minute delay before Rashford’s penalty had been taken, plus substitutions and treatment for Winks, there was only four minutes of added time, during which Dele had a right foot shot held by De Gea.
Spurs have to dust themselves down and face Burnley at home on Saturday. I hope to see Ndombele’s driving force coupled with plenty of skill feature in that game.
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