FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP ( 11.30 A.M. KICK-OFF)
SATURDAY 6TH MAY, 2000
MANCHESTER UNITED 3 (3) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1)
Referee:- Alan Wilkie
Man Utd (4-4-2):- Van Der Gouw; P. Neville, Stam (sub Berg, 26), Silvestre, Irwin; Beckham, Butt (sub Greening, 62), Scholes, Giggs; Solskjaer (sub Jordi, 79), Sheringham
Subs not used:- Fortune, Wallwork (no sub goalkeeper)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Walker; Carr, Perry, Campbell, Clemence; Anderton, Davies, Freund, Etherington (sub King, 83); Armstrong (sub Doherty, 70), Iversen (sub Korsten, 70)
Subs not used:- Segers; Scales (Baardsen absent through sickness)
Once again, Spurs were the bridesmaids at the home side's party, as the presentation of the Carling Premiership trophy took place after today's game. It was obvious that Spurs did not intend to steal the show, as Ginola was left out in favour of Etherington, who, along with Davies made his full debut. Even Ledley King (absent through injury for 7 months), and new boy Gary Doherty got on the pitch, whilst Ginola was left to view proceedings from the dug-out.
Sir Alex Ferguson said before the game that he was fielding his strongest available side, as Bosnich, Gary Neville, Keane, and Cole were apparently injured, and Dwight Yorke was away on international duty. Even though Jaap Stam had to be replaced after Chris Armstrong's superb equaliser, Manchester United were still several echelons above Tottenham who struggled to get hold of the ball, let alone compete on anything like equal terms.
United hogged possession from the start, and took the lead with only five minutes gone. Etherington, tracking back, had to dispossess Phillip Neville and concede a corner, from which both Stam and Solskjaer were left un-marked, and the former Spurs target headed over the line, despite a gallant attempt from Carr, standing next to Walker on the line.
The home side were finding too much space in the middle, with Sheringham doing what he loves, and coming deep for the ball, and the ever-impressive Giggs featuring on his left wing and in the middle. Soon after taking the lead, Sheringham found Giggs on the left in acres of space. Walker needed two touches to hold his driven shot. Scholes was the first in the book for fouling Freund, and this seemed to drive the home fans into a frenzy of booing Freund for having the audacity to be fouled on their territory! Needless to say Freund found his own way into Wilkie's book before too long. I was personally disappointed with Freund, who harried away as usual, but rarely managed to get his foot on the ball.
At last, Spurs managed to get some decent possession, as Anderton found his feet. Carr made a perceptive cross, but Anderton could not get his boot round the half chance presented to him inside the area. Then came an equaliser out of the blue. A classy one it was too! Anderton found Iversen on the right with a tasty pass hit with the outside of his foot. Iversen passed back, and Anderton's cross was met by a diving header from Chris Armstrong getting in front of Stam at the near post, to hit the net.
This goal was to prove only a temporary respite, as the champions went on the rampage. Giggs made some room for himself just outside the box, with some tricky footwork, passed to Scholes on the left, whose short cross was headed onto the top of the bar by Solskjaer - again un-marked. Simon Davies did well to make ground in the middle, and pass to Armstrong with time to shoot from the right of the area. His shot lacked strength, and whilst beating Van Der Gouw, went wide of the goal.
Then United took a convincing lead that was never to be threatened with two goals in two minutes. First on 34 minutes, Giggs again made a path down the middle, found Solskjaer on the left, who fed Beckham 25 yards out. Beckham scored a great goal, as he shaped to shoot to Walker's left, but found the narrow angle, and curled the shot into Ian's top right corner. The next goal came as Perry could only manage a half-challenge against Solskjaer, who was able to find Sheringham with time and space to spare, leaving an embarrassed Campbell behind to fire high into the net.
The first of two threats from Spurs before the interval was a super run from Carr, who cleverly deceived Irwin to get into a very dangerous position within the area, only for Silvestre to manage to prevent any further breach. Just before the whistle, Scholes brought down Iversen on the edge of the area, Anderton's shot was blocked and Clemence's left foot shot was pushed round by Van Der Gouw.
The second half seemed to settle into testimonial pace, except now and again the "Reds" would lift the tempo and the style, and give both Perry and Campbell some stiff tests. having been found wanting a little in the first half, in my view, both our central defenders excelled in the second period, and Perry in particular got some good tackles and blocks in. One in particular was memorable towards the end of the game, as Jordi was through on goal and about to "pull the trigger", before Perry got in an exquisite tackle on the edge of the 6 yard box, to fairly and cleanly deprive the attacker of the ball.
On the hour, Beckham working on the left for a change, evaded Freund, and gave Scholes a shooting chance. This time it was Walker having to push round for a corner. Greening replaced Butt - neither of whom are first choice players for ManU, but Greening had a couple of threatening runs, giving Clemence a hard time at left back. One such run ended with a shot fired well over the bar, but another forced a sharp save from Walker, and then as Greening followed up his effort was saved by the woodwork.
Korsten and Doherty replaced the strikers. Korsten's first touch was abysmal, but he did have a couple of decent runs, one of which forced a save from Van Der Gouw, when he comfortably tipped Korsten's shot over the bar. King replaced Etherington, and Clemence was allowed to move forward, but Spurs were never going to be party poopers. The visiting fans were in good voice, praising Ginola, and also Sol Campbell. Let us hope that the Man United fans (who seemed to be listening carefully at this point) don't have the opportunity to steal another song from us, in the same way as they stole our "Glory, Glory"
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