FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER, 2001
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (3) MANCHESTER UNITED 5 (0)
Man Utd scorers:-
Van Nistelrooy, 72
Referee:- Jeff Winter
Spurs (3-5-2):- Sullivan; Perry, Richards (wearing 36), King; Taricco, Poyet, Anderton (sub Rebrov, 82), Freund, Ziege; Sheringham (Capt), Ferdinand
Subs not used:- Keller; Thelwell; Davies, Etherington
Booked:- Poyet, Freund, Perry
Man Utd (4-4-2):- Barthez; G. Neville, Blanc, Johnsen, Irwin (sub Silvestre, 46); Beckham (Capt), Butt (sub Solskjaer, 39), Veron, Scholes; Cole, Van Nistelrooy
Subs not used:- Carroll; P. Neville; Chadwick
Booked:- Butt, Irwin, Beckham
The first half dream turned into a second half nightmare. I swear to you, I had tears of joy in my eyes at half time, having witnessed the best Spurs football I can remember for a long time. Dean Richards scored on his debut, and even Steffen Freund did a little showboating as the oles rang out for the Spurs passing game on the build up to the third goal on the stroke of half time. There was though, that fear of what the wounded tiger would do after the break, and a recognition that Spurs would need to preserve their lead for as long as possible. The dream was to be broken only 45 seconds after the re-start, and the Spurs under-17 side would have competed as well as Glenn Hoddle's line-up did in what was to be one of the greatest comebacks in football history.
Spurs came under pressure early on, as Ziege lost out to Veron about 35 yards out. Cole fed to Van Nistelrooy, but the defence managed to get just enough on the ball to deflect the shot for a corner. Man Utd were confined to shooting from outside the box for much of the time, although there were one or two scares for the Beckham speciality kicks in his favourite areas. Nicky Butt gave a way a free kick near the half way line, then got booked as he protested. Irwin booted the free kick out for a corner, and Dean Richards made his fantasy debut, as he headed low past Barthez at the near post from Ziege's corner.
Spurs went two up after 25 minutes, after Taricco recovered well from nearly losing the ball, to start a move that ended with a clever flick from Poyet to beat the offside trap, and allow Les Ferdinand to score his first league goal of the season with a low shot to the right of Barthez. There was a bit of a melee after Freund gave away a free kick in Beckham's zone, which Sullivan saved cleanly after it had been deflected. On the half hour Spurs nearly scored again, as Taricco sent Poyet away with a glorious curling ball down the line. Poyet crossed and Teddy's effort was deflected for a corner.
That seemingly magical three goal lead came after a sequence of passes from Spurs which included a Freund backheel to Sheringham, and then a Freund ball that looped down the right wing, ignored by a static United defence. Poyet collected and sent a deep cross which Ziege headed home with a super low dive.
Silvestre replaced Irwin, and United closed the gap immediately when Beckham and Neville carved up the left side. Neville's cross was headed home by Cole. The signs were already looking ominous. Surely Glenn had warned the team of the dangers to come? Neville was exposing too many gaps, as Ziege never seemed to fall back and assist in his defensive responsibilities, and Ledley King was left on his own.
Spurs did not manage a meaningful chance in the second spell, and Anderton, Poyet and Ferdinand tired badly. Only Rebrov came on for Anderton when it was too late, and the game was lost. The gap was closed to one goal, when Laurent Blanc headed home Beckham's corner, and with 18 minutes to go, Silvestre made the left flank his won, and gave Van Nistelrooy an easy header. Taricco had been badly knocked by Cole a little earlier, and may also have suffered by this time.
United took an incredible lead after 76 minutes when Veron was given the freedom of the left side of the area, and he too had an easy task to finish. The Spurs agony was over when Solskjaer crossed to Beckham to fire home. Beckham celebrated in front of the wrong crowd, and I swear that referee Winter was going to book him, but remembered he had already taken his name. What was the point, after all?
This is a game that is going to live in the memory for a long time. All the goals were scored in front of me at the Paxton Road end, and one can only admire the recovery of the champions. Glenn Hoddle just needs to get his side to play to the standard of the first half. This then, was the archetypal "game of two halves", and the "Spursometer" reflects the performance of each session.
· Brian Judson's Preview for this game can still be read here
· Declan Mulcahy's Last Five Stats for this game can still be read here
· Check the current team appearances, cards and scorers in all competitions
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