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Spurs v Manchester United, 01.12.13

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 1ST DECEMBER, 2013
(12 noon)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1) MANCHESTER UNITED 2 (1)

Spurs scorers:-
Walker, 18
Sandro, 54

Man Utd scorer:-
Rooney, 32, 57 (pen)

Attendance:- 35,884

Referee:- Mr. M. Dean
Assistants:- Mr. J. Collin & Mr. P. Bankes
Fourth official:- Mr. J. Moss

Teams:-
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Chiriches, Vertonghen; Sandro, Dembele; Lennon (sub Townsend, 65), Paulinho, Chadli (sub Sigurdsson, 85); Soldado (sub Defoe, 72)

Subs not used:- Friedel; Kaboul; Capoue, Holtby

Booked:- Lloris (foul on Welbeck)

Man Utd:- (4-4-1-1):- De Gea; Smalling, Evans, Vidic (Capt), Evra; Valencia (sub Nani, 85), Jones, Cleverley, Welbeck (sub Hernandez, 73); Kagawa (sub Young,84); Rooney

Subs not used:- Lindegaard; Rafael; Fellaini, Anderson

Booked:- Evra (foul on Townsend), Jones (foul on Dembele), Vidic(foul on Defoe)

Pride Restored.

My pride in Tottenham Hotspur Football Club was restored today, thanks to a performance which was full of the intensity and vigour that any football fan likes to see, especially those that follow Spurs. A draw was arguably a fair result in a game that was comparable to the traditional Spurs v United matches down the years, in which both teams played with no other intent but to attack. There was no "ten men behind the ball" football today.

Either team might have snatched victory, and in terms of the Premier League race for glory, or at least Champions League, one point was not the ideal for either side. Football was definitely the winner today in what I consider to be the best game I have seen in person so far this season.

Spurs' goals were quite sensational, with Kyle Walker scoring direct from a first half free kick, and "The Beast" Sandro giving us an early second half lead, with a superbly struck right footer that beat De Gea in his top left corner.

Unfortunately, Kyle Walker, whose effort and endeavour throughout the game was relentless, gifted Wayne Rooney a first half equaliser, and referee Mike Dean generously awarded United a second half penalty equaliser (slotted home again by Rooney), when Lloris raced out to challenge Welbeck, who left a leg conveniently trailing to convince the referee that not only a penalty was warranted, but also a yellow card for Lloris.

It took even longer for Mr. Dean to wave his yellow card at a United player. David Moyes' team had been guilty of cynical football from a very early stage, when the referee chose to "have words"with rather than book Evra in the first 5 minutes.

There were one or two surprises in the Spurs line-up, with Dembele playing beside Sandro, and Paulinho playing the central advanced role between Lennon and Chadli. Soldado started, despite having played 90 minutes in Tromso on Thursday. Chadli was perhaps chosen for his physique and additional height in midfield, but did not take the greatest advantage of his opportunity.

The fact that United were without Robin van Persie gave me cause for optimism, and a defence featuring Smalling and Evans also gave this observer hope before the game.

Those early words with Evra followed a foul on Aaron Lennon. The referee fairly waved "play-on", and Paulinho fed the ball to Kyle Walker advancing ahead of Lennon. Unfortunately, Walker just carried the ball too far over the bye-line. A Spurs throw from the left led to a ball which was headed on by Soldado to Lennon, who carried the ball to his left, then hit a left foot shot that was easy for De Gea.

Valencia did well against Vertonghen on the United right flank, but it was an error by Chiriches that gave Spurs a headache at the back. Skipper Michael Dawson was first to the rescue, then a Rooney attempt was well blocked.

Spurs took the lead after Paulinho had been fouled as he tried to make headway across the field outside the United area. Up stepped Kyle Walker, and up jumped the United wall, over the ball, which beat De Gea's dive to his right at The Park Lane End.

Soon after that, Spurs won a corner on the right, and Dawson had an attempted shot on goal blocked. At the other end Valencia "did" Vertonghen, with a little too much ease, but he didn't get round Chiriches, who was happy to give United a throw.

Chiriches started an excellent Spurs move, taking his time to pick and measure a pass to Paullinho, who had an exchange with Soldado as they moved forward in tandem. Paulinho's final pass was picked up by the Spaniard, who hit his shot wide of De Gea's left stanchion. It wasn't long before Soldado fed Lennon,who had a shot blocked, but then chased and retrieved the ball on the left, near the bye-line. Sadly, his cross went to no-one as it crossed the goal-mouth.

Having had such a bright start, and looking potentially worthy match winners, Spurs contrived to let United back into the game, when Kyle Walker skewed an attempted clearance, which fell very nicely, thank you very much for Rooney, who had an easy finish.

This goal gave United a foothold, and they began to dominate possession, before and after the interval.

However, it was Spurs who regained the lead in sensational fashion, as Sandro latched onto a ball a good 25 yards out and hit a great right footed shot that gave De Gea no chance, hitting the net in his top left corner.

Soon after that, Walker won great applause for making a supreme effort to challenge for a ball deep in the United half, but the "Red Devils" did break out from this situation, and won a penalty when Lloris was adjudged to have brought down Welbeck. Lloris was booked, and Rooney made no mistake with the spot-kick. Rooney has now moved into the top five Premier League goal-scorers' chart, which sadly does to include a Spurs player.

Spurs won a free kick when Paulinho was fouled just outside the area on the left. When his kick was cleared it did hit a United hand, but any appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears. United came close when an Evra cross from the left beat everyone.

Andre Villas-Boas was roundly booed by the Spurs crowd when he then took off the industrious Aaron Lennon for Andros Townsend. Townsend didn't really offer more for Spurs, but perhaps the bench knew more about Lennon's fitness levels than we knew.

Walker had another free kick, which passed wide. Kagawa was getting away with adopting a position at these kicks closer than the wall, which of course irritated the home crowd.

Spurs had a nice move down the right flank featuring Sandro, Paulinho and Townsend, but Townsend's final cross was cleared. At the other end, it was a worry to see Welbeck get round Dawson with too much ease near the bye-line, but that attack dissipated.

Welbeck was soon replaced by alleged Spurs' target Hernandez, whilst Jermain Defoe replaced Soldado. Chiriches made a great tackle to deprive Rooney of the ball outside the Spurs area on the left flank.

Evra rightly got booked for a cynical foul on Townsend,but Spurs could not make anything of the free kick. After 78 minutes, Spurs broke out after a United corner, with Walker getting ahead of Defoe and crossing for Townsend, who was in the middle, but could not quite get contact on the ball.

Dembele hasn't had a mention in this report so far, but he had a good game, I felt, and Jones brought him down as he advanced, and also saw yellow.

The final booking of the game was for Vidic, and his was the most cynical of the day really, as he tugged back Defoe, who had beaten him on the right, and was advancing into the United box. Spurs put a little pressure on United after this, with a couple of corners, but United cleared any danger.

I truly enjoyed this game, and I am now looking forward to Wednesday night's game at Craven Cottage. As I write, I have read that Martin Jol has left, following their six successive defeats. Hopefully, we'll have no Spurs "Jol love" to get in the way of a performance like that of today, and hopefully three points to Spurs.

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