Attendance – 75,566
Referee – Chris Foy
Manchester United 2 – 3 Tottenham Hotspur
[Nani – 51’, Kagawa – 53’][Vertonghen – 2’, Bale – 32’, Dempsey – 52’]
Finally after a long and hard wait of 23 years have the North London club broken their hoodoo at Old Trafford. Dominant the first half and defending for their lives for most of the second, Spurs got the job done. They took the lead early with when Vertonghen ran past the United defense and scored albeit a massive deflection off Evans to beat Lindegaard and give his side the lead. Old Trafford was shell shocked. The performance however was poor in the first half and Tottenham who were dominating possession doubled their lead in the 30th minute when Bale ran half the pitch and slot past the United keeper. Spurs went it at half time with a 2-0 lead. The second half saw Rooney come in for Giggs and the momentum suddenly shifted. Nani scored from a Rooney cross and United were back in it. But no sooner had United cut the deficit, Spurs scored again on a counter attack. Bale’s thunderous shot could only be parried away by the keeper and Dempsey had the easiest of finishes and Spurs had a two goal cushion again. The scoring wasn’t finished just yet. Moments later a beautiful United move saw Kagawa flicking the ball past Friedel and Old Trafford was roaring again. United probed and probed the rest of the match.Persie had a glorious chance to equalize but squandered the chance and Tottenham held on. A brilliant game for the neutrals but both managers will be disappointed on the insipid display in either halves.
Manchester United: Lindegaard, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Carrick, Scholes, Nani, Giggs, Kagawa, van Persie. Subs: De Gea, Anderson, Wootton, Cleverley, Rooney, Hernandez, Welbeck.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen, Sandro, Dembele, Dempsey, Lennon, Bale, Defoe. Subs: Lloris, Dawson, Huddlestone, Falque, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Mason.
Manchester United – Sticking to the rotation that is being followed by him in the last few matches, Sir Alex Ferguson chose Lindegaard in place of David de Gea who started in goal in the League cup midweek. Injury to Vidic meant the partnership of Ferdinand and Evans started the match with Scott Wooton who impressed against Newcastle on the bench. Evra resumed his duties on the left side of defense with Rafael on the right. With Valencia injured, Nani who has been going through a terrible time started on the right wing and the record breaking Ryan Giggs on the left. Scholes and Carrick started in the middle of the part with Kagawa partnering Persie upfront. Rooney who made a return to the first team against Newcastle was on the bench.
Tottenham Hotspur – Andre Ville Boas in his pre match interviews clearly stated that his team will not sit back and defend against United. He kept to his word and started with a very attacking lineup. Defoe and Dempsey , the two strikers upfront. Teams rarely go to Old Trafford and do that but the Portuguese stuck to his guns. Lennon and Bale with their blistering pace supporting the two strikers. Dembele who tormented United the last time was given the chance to repeat that performance alongside Sandro in midfield. Lloris was again on the bench with Friedel, the 41 year old starting in goal. The back four had a familiar look to it with Walker starting on the right and Vertonghen on the left. Gallas partnered Caulker in the centre of defense.
Attack is what Andre Ville Boas wanted from his side at Old Trafford and attack is exactly what he got. After a cagey opening, Spurs left back went past Nani rather easily into the United box, held off Ferdinand and via an Evans deflection scored in the 2nd minute. It was a dream start for the London club who were looking for their first win in 23 years at Old Trafford. The perfect start for Tottenham and they started taking control of the game. Spurs were dominating the game and it seemed that United did not want to be on the pitch. Friedel who was in the Spurs goal did not have a save to make in nearly half an hour of play. United were poor and their reluctance to get close to the opposition resulted in the London club doubling their lead at the half hour mark. Gareth Bale, who before the start was accidentally referred to as Christian Bale by Sir Alex ran 40 yards with the ball and slotted the ball home past the Danish keeper. None of the United players put any sort of pressure on Bale and he was allowed a virtually free run and he made United pay. Old Trafford was in shock. Their team was 2-0 down and did not look scoring anytime soon. The half ended with the home side having their first decent spell of the match. Nani, invisible for the most of the half had a couple of decent chances to reduce the deficit but to no success. Spurs went in with a 2 goal lead at the break.
Giggs, looked lackluster and was duly substituted at half time. On came Rooney with the manager hoping for an impetus into the United team who looked unwilling to match the opponents in any area on the pitch .The move had its desired effect and the Red Devils looked a completely different side after the break. The reward for the renewed vigor came in the 50th minute when Nani slid in a Rooney cross from the byline and brought United back in the game. A phrase in football goes like ‘A team is at its most vulnerable at the back when it has just scored’. In the next 3 minutes or so there would be perfect examples of the above phrase. United, who had just reduced the deficit to a single goal conceded again. Defoe slid past Ferdinand and passed the ball to Bale whose powerful shot could only be parried by the keeper to Clint Dempsey who gleefully accepted the simplest of tap ins for his first Spurs goal. The London club had a two goal cushion and the 23 year wait for a win at Old Trafford was about to end. The happiness last less than a minute when a intricate United move ended in Kagawa flicking the ball in the Spurs net and the match wasn’t finished just yet. From there on it was a training drill. Attack v/s Defense was the theme. Manchester United kept on piling the pressure on Spurs and had decent chances to equalize. The best of the lot falling to Robin van Persie. Carrick slid in an excellent through ball to Persie. With only the keeper to beat the Dutchman somehow managed to put his shot horribly wide and that the sign of things to come Spurs held their fort well and managed to keep hold of their lead despite the United onslaught. Scholes was at the fulcrum on every United move with continuous 40 yard passes to both flanks. Despite the brilliance of Scholes, United were unable to find the equalizer and Spurs held on. A poor first half cost United dear but the shining light if any for United would the trio of RVP,Rooney and Kagawa looking promising.
Man of the Match – Paul Scholes – Nicknamed ‘Ginger Ninja’ the United midfielder was at his devastating best in the second half. He made nearly 150 passed with an accuracy rate of 91% which is quite unreal. He continuously pinged 40 yard passes at will and the 75000 at Old Trafford just watched in awe. He may be 37 years old but genius has shown no signs of slowing down. He ran the show for United and his brilliance nearly salvaged a lost cause for United.
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