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Spurs v Manchester United, 19.06.20

PREMIER LEAGUE
FRIDAY 19TH JUNE, 2020
(8.15PM)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1) MANCHESTER UNITED 1(0)

Spurs scorer:-
Bergwijn, 27

Man Utd scorer:-
Bruno Fernandes, 81 (pen)

Attendance:- 0 (Behind closed doors)

Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- Eddie Smart, Neil Davies
Fourth official:- Andre Marriner
VAR:- Graham Scott
Assistant VAR:- Stephen Child
Replacement Official: Darren Blunden

Teams:-
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Sissoko, Winks; Bergwijn (sub Lo Celso, 70), Lamela (sub Gedson Fernandes, 70), Son; Kane

Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Alderweireld, Vertonghen; White, Sessegnon, Ndombele, Skipp

No bookings

Man Utd (4-2-3-1):- De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof (sub Matic, 78), Maguire (Capt.), Shaw; McTominay (sub Bailly, 89), Fred (sub Pogba, 63); James (sub Greenwood, 62), Bruno Fernandes, Rashford; Martial (sub Ighalo, 78)

Subs not used:- Romero; Williams; Mata, Lingard

Booked:- James (foul on Dier)

Spurs pay the penalty (nearly twice)

Having scored a very good goal in the first half through the impressive Steven Bergwijn, Spurs were put under pressure by the visitors who ultimately dominated possession and territory. They succumbed when Eric Dier was beaten by substitute Paul Pogba with 10 minutes to go as the United man forced his way into the left side of the area. Dier was penalised and United’s star man Bruno Fernandes sent Lloris the wrong way. With one minute of the 90 remaining Dier was penalised again by referee Jon Moss for an alleged foul on Fernandes, but this time the referee was (fairly) overruled by VAR. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer used all five of his available substitutes under the temporary rules of this post lockdown period, but mysteriously Jose Mourinho chose not to use three of his remaining permitted subs. Perhaps he lacks faith in those he didn’t use?

A win was very much needed by Spurs to raise a Champions League challenge but the point leaves them still four behind United who are in what might be a coveted fifth place, depending upon the result of Man City’s UEFA ban appeal to be announced next month. Spurs remain in eighth place.

The game was played behind closed doors of course, and was the fourth of the Premier League games to be played after a 100 day enforced Covid-19 break. As has been the trend there was a minute for contemplation before kick-off regarding the victims of Coronavirus but the Spurs players chose to applaud the NHS, some of whose services along with Community services have been hosted at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The stadium was bedecked with large banner flags and various supporters flags. (The Spurs Odyssey flag was not allowed as it lacks an authentic fire certificate). A poignant remembrance was offered for Spurs season ticket holders who have sadly died as a result of the virus. Club shirts bearing their names were on display in the stand. As has been the trend in all four games played so far, at kick-off also players and officials took a knee with regard to the “Black Lives Matter” issue, with all players’ shirts bearing those three words and not the name of the player.

THFC would not allow me the fly the Spurs Odyssey flag in the stadium for these behind closed doors games but it will feature in my match report!

THFC would not allow me the fly the Spurs Odyssey flag in the stadium for these behind closed doors games but it will feature in my match report!

Spurs took advantage of one of the massive NFL dressing rooms below the East stand, and thus entered the arena from the opposite side to the away team. Despite the approach of the longest day the game was preceded by heavy rain and was played in overcast conditions with the floodlights on throughout.

Convention was followed with United kicking off and playing towards the South Stand. Here in the UK most coverage comes with the option of enhanced crowd sound effects which I prefer. On this occasion the sound seemed to be particularly Spurs-related which I enjoyed.

Both sides played in a 4-2-3-1 formation and it looked as if Mourinho had chosen to play Son on the left flank to assist Ben Davies with James, who did not have much effect for the visitors. Lamela played between Son and Bergwijn and Spurs did look quite sharp when going forward in the early stages. Apparently Dier and Sanchez were chosen in preference to Alderweireld and Vertonghen for their ability to deal with the pace of Martial and Rashford. Overall they did quite well, although Sanchez seemed to lack confidence on the ball, often choosing to pass back to Hugo who was booting the ball long for a change most of the time.

Spurs won a corner after 4 minutes following a sharp move across the field featuring Son, Lamela, Bergwijn and Kane, before Aurier’s shot was blocked after Kane’s final pass. Lamela took this corner which came to nought. He alternated responsibility with Son. Harry Wings swung a ball to the left where Son found room for a right-footed shot which was easy for de Gea.

Referee Jon Moss (who was in charge of our last league game at Burnley – also a 1-1 draw) had “words” with Lamela over a challenge upon McTominay, and only showed one yellow card all night.

United started to get into the game and won two corners, but Spurs defended those comfortably. There was danger though when Bruno swung in a ball from right of the area and Sanchez headed weakly into the path of Rashford, whose shot was well saved by Hugo Lloris. A subsequent shot by Fred was comfortable for the Spurs skipper.

One of the protocols for these games is to have a drinks break midway through each half. After this break, Bergwijn scored what was a great personal goal, and for his club, but De Gea will be disappointed and was heartily slated by Roy Keane in his role as half-time pundit. Bergwijn picked up the ball in midfield after a long clearance and made a strong run which ended with a powerful right-footed shot. De Gea got a hand to the shot, but could not stop the ball hitting the net. Bergwijn has scored home goals against both Manchester sides in his short Spurs career to date.

After a free kick taken by Fred both Rashford and Sanchez challenged for the ball near Lloris’s left post and Hugo was required to push the ball out of play. Winks hit a decent pass to Bergwijn who advanced down the right side before hitting a long cross over the area where Son hit a header and De Gea pushed the ball over. Son and Bergwijn combined again, but this attack ended with an offside decision against the home side.

Lamela and Aurier combined before Son hit a shot from the right of the area which was blocked and won a corner. After Lamela’s corner was half-cleared, Winks hit a shot off target. We entered three minutes of added time, and following more sharp approach play by Spurs from left to right Aurier hit a shot wide. Bruno hit a swerving shot from 28 yards which tested Hugo, but the Spurs guardian held the ball.

United dominated early second half possession and Spurs struggled to get out of their half with even Kane found only 30 yards from his own goal. It looked like a typical Mourinho backs to the wall strategy, but did Spurs have the men to do the job. The answer ultimately was “No”. Spurs did counter after 5 minutes with Lamela over-hitting what could have been a good pass into the United area.

Rashford headed wide after a good cross by Wan-Bissaka. Ben Davies was starting to offer too much space. Bruno combined with Martial before hitting a right foot shot just outside Lloris’s right post. Son, Bergwijn and Kane forced a path forward down the left flank and a cross by Lamela was cleared.

Solskjaer made the first of his substitutions after 62 minutes, and Paul Pogba was one of these making his first appearance since Boxing Day. Dier did well to block a shot by Martial after he had been out in by Bruno. Lloris swept up the ball. After a mistake by Aurier, Luke Shaw crossed from the left and Martial hit a strong shot which was pushed over by Lloris’s left hand as he made a great save.

After this drinks break Jose put on Lo Celso for Bergwijn and Gedson for Lamela. De Gea did have to bat away a cross by Lo Celso after a move down the left. Two more pairs of fresh legs came on for United – Ighalo and Matic. Then came the United penalty awarded for Dier’s foul on Pogba. Lloris dived to his left. Bruno scored to the keeper’s right.

Spurs had been under the cosh, but they did try to grab the win with Lo Celso and Gedson in particular trying to make headway down the left side. Lo Celso was fouled by Pogba just outside the box, but Son’s kick was blocked. Kane took a free kick after another foul on Lo Celso. This one was a little further out, but blocked by the United wall.

United had one more substitution and this time a defender – Bailly – came on for McTominay. Spurs survived a second penalty decision thanks to VAR’s correct review and as we reached the end of five minutes of added time Greenwood went clear and hit a right foot shot wide across the goalmouth. Bruni hit a similar shot, only farther wide.

We hoped for more from this game, but got no more than we deserved. In truth United looked the more likely winners. Our visitors on Tuesday night will be West Ham when the suspended Dele Alli will be available and hopefully very keen to prove a footballing point.

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